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3 missing after Marine Osprey crashes near Australia

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Three U.S. Marines were missing Saturday after a U.S. Marine Corps Osprey aircraft crashed off the eastern coast of Australia, Marine officials said Saturday.

The tilt-rotor helicopter crashed off the coast of Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton in Queensland state in the late afternoon, according to Australian Associated Press.

A statement from the Marine base Camp Butler in Okinawa said that an MV-22 Osprey was involved in a “mishap” off the east coast of Australia and that 23 of 26 personnel aboard have been rescued.

An active search and rescue operation is under way for the three missing personnel, it said.

“Ship’s small boats and aircraft from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group are conducting the search and rescue operations,” the statement said.

The Osprey was assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 in Okinawa.

It was in Australia as part of the Australian-U.S. military exercise Talisman Sabre, which concluded at the end of July.

Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said she had been advised of the crash.

“I can confirm no Australian Defense Force personnel were on board the aircraft,” she said in a statement.

The Osprey aircraft, whose tilt-rotor props enable them to land and take off like a helicopter yet fly like an airplane once airborne, has a checkered safety record.

In December last year, a U.S. Marine MV-22 Osprey crash-landed in waters off the main island of Okinawa.

==Kyodo

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