US Navy plane crashes into Pacific, three still missing | News | DW | 22.11.2017
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US Navy plane crashes into Pacific, three still missing

Eight people on board a US Navy plane that crashed into the Philippine Sea south of Japan have been rescued. Search teams are scouring the area to find three other personnel who are still missing.

USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier (Getty Images/AFP)

The plane was on its way to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier

A US Navy transport plane carrying 11 people crashed into the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday as it was en route to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.

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Eight people were rescued and are in "good condition," the US 7th Fleet said in a statement. Rescue crews are still looking for the remaining three personnel.

"Search and rescue efforts for three personnel continue with US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships and aircraft on scene," they said in a statement.

The USS Reagan was operating in the Philippine Sea south of Japan when the crash occurred at 2:45 p.m. Japan time (05:45 UTC).

Read moreSouth China Sea: China protests after US warship sails near island

Possible 'engine trouble'

It was not immediately clear why the C-2 "Greyhound" aircraft crashed, the Navy said, adding that an investigation will be launched into the incident.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters that a joint search-and-rescue operation had been launched and that initial reports pointed to a problem with the plane's engine.

"From the US military, we have received an initial report that engine trouble might be the cause," he said.

The propeller-powered C-2 aircraft have been used by the US Navy for over 50 years and are due to be replaced by the tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft.

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Fatal Navy accidents in Pacific

This year, the US Navy's 7th Fleet has had two fatal accidents in Asian waters. The accidents have left 17 sailors dead and prompted the removal of several top officers from their posts, including the 7th Fleet's commander.

In August, the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker near Singapore, killing 10 US sailors. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided near Japan.

Following investigations, the US Navy concluded the crashes were avoidable and resulted from failures by commanders and crews to quickly recognize and respond to the emergencies.

rs/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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