by Grace Carr
Five U.S. Marines are still missing after two military aircraft crashed roughly 200 miles off the coast of Japan early Thursday.
Rescuers are searching for the missing Marines but have still not been able to locate them, according to U.S and Japanese authorities, NBC News reported.
Seven Marines were involved in the crash and two of the men have been found, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry. A Japanese military ship found one of the Marines who was killed in the crash, according to CNN. His body was taken to a hospital to be evaluated.
The other Marine is in “fair condition,” according to NBC.
The incident occurred after two military planes collided and crashed into the Sea of Japan early Thursday morning. An F/A-18 fighter jet carrying two passengers struck a KC-130 aircraft during refueling.
“We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s, the Japanese Coast Guard’s, and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s efforts as they continue to respond to the search and rescue operation,” the Marines tweeted from its official Twitter account.
Three ships and 10 Japanese aircraft are helping search for the remaining Marines, CNN reported.
The accident took place during a regular training exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan.
“I am encouraged by the fact that the United States and Japan have worked so closely together, and I would like to thank Japan’s Self Defense Force for immediately joining us in a closely integrated exercise to search and rescue for those involved,” U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty said.
Marines “risk their lives every day to protect Japan and to protect this region, and sometimes they pay the greatest cost,” Hagerty added. “I want to emphasize this security alliance that we have is critical, and it is moving forward in a very positive direction.”
The Japanese Defense Ministry has asked the U.S. for further information about the incident, according to Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga.
“The weather is definitely going to play a factor,” 1st Lt. Josh Hayes told CNN. “It’s a full team effort between us and the Japanese defense force. And we’re hoping to get our Marines back.”
This is not the first incident involving military aircraft. The U.S. military grounded all of its F-35 fighter jets after one of the planes crashed close to a South Carolina military base in September. A Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter also crashed on an aircraft carrier in the Philippine Sea in October, injuring several service members.
Over 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Japan, according to NBC.
The U.S. Marines did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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Grace Carr is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Grace on Twitter.