In Japan, a military aircraft of US crashes into the sea
On Wednesday, tragedy struck as a U.S. military aircraft, carrying six individuals, plunged into the sea off western Japan. The unfortunate incident resulted in the loss of at least one crew member, while at least two others sustained injuries.
The Japanese coast guard, responding swiftly, located wreckage linked to the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey and recovered one deceased body near Yakushima island. Reports from a local fisheries cooperative revealed that three individuals were found in the nearby waters by fishing boats, their conditions unknown at that point. Fortunately, another Osprey managed to land safely at the island’s airport around the same time as the crash.
A spokesperson for the U.S. forces in the region stated that they were actively collecting information on the incident. This occurrence unfolded just before 3 p.m. with witnesses describing the aircraft’s left engine ablaze as it approached an airport for an emergency landing, despite clear weather conditions and light winds.
Prompt action was taken when a member of the public dialed 118, Japan’s equivalent of 911, at 2:47 p.m. local time. The Coast Guard rapidly deployed patrol vessels and aircraft to the scene. Ospreys, being hybrid aircraft combining helicopter takeoff and landing capabilities with airplane-like cruising speed, are utilized by various branches of the U.S. military.
The aircraft disappeared from radar several minutes before the emergency call was received by the Coast Guard. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno revealed that the aircraft had requested an emergency landing at Yakushima airport just five minutes before vanishing from radar.
Not for the first time
The Coast Guard later corrected the initial report of eight individuals on board to six. Yakushima, situated in Kagoshima prefecture and approximately 1,040 km (650 miles) southwest of Tokyo, is home to a World Heritage-accredited wildlife and forest reserve.
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Following the incident, Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture took a precautionary measure by urging the U.S. military to ground all Ospreys stationed there. Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki expressed regret over the unforeseen event, citing concerns about the safety of Ospreys. He noted that this incident added weight to those concerns.
Regrettably, this is not the first mishap involving Osprey military aircraft. In previous instances, accidents, including fatalities, have been reported during military exercises, such as the one in Australia where three U.S. Marines lost their lives, and several others were seriously injured in an Osprey crash.