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US Military Declares 5 Marines Missing In Aircraft Collision Off Japan Dead

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The US military stated that five American Marines who have been missing since two US Aircraft collided off the southern coast of Japan are dead.

US Marine Corps Lt Gen Eric Smith, commanding general, III Marine Expeditionary Force, made the announcement Tuesday, after five days of search and rescue operations for the missing US marines were concluded.

"Every possible effort was made to recover our crew and I hope the families of these selfless Americans will find comfort in the incredible efforts made by US, Japanese, and Australian forces during the search," Smith said on Facebook.

The next-of-kin for the five deceased Marines have been notified, but the US military did not reveal their identities.

A KC-130 Hercules tanker and an F/A-18 Hornet jet crashed about 200 miles off the coast of Japan on December 6 during a regularly-scheduled training. The military did not confirm reports that the mishap occurred during mid-air refueling exercise.

The circumstances of the mishap are currently under investigation.

The United States Marine Corps confirmed that one of the two marines who were rescued after the accident also succumbed to his injuries, raising the death toll to six.

The aircraft had reportedly taken off from Iwakuni, in southern Japan, one of the biggest U.S. air bases in East Asia.

This is the third crash of U.S. military aircraft in about two months, raising concerns within Japan about accidents involving the U.S. military.

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