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At Least One Dead as US Osprey Aircraft Crashes Off Coast of Japan

At least one person was killed Wednesday after a US military Osprey aircraft crashed off the coast of Japan’s Yakushima Island in southern Kagoshima prefecture, according to a spokesperson from the Japan Coast Guard.

Six people were on board the aircraft, the Coast Guard said. Previously, officials said eight people had been on board.

The spokesperson added that no further information was available on the other individuals on board and the reason behind the crash.

A US official confirmed the aircraft, an Air Force Osprey, crashed off the coast of Japan’s Yakushima Island. A search and rescue operation is ongoing and the status of the crew is unknown, a US military official said Wednesday.

Family notifications of the incident are ongoing, the official said.

The Coast Guard received information about the crash around 2:47 p.m. local time (12:47 a.m. ET), said the spokesperson, adding the 10th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters has dispatched a patrol boat and aircraft to the crash area.

The Osprey military aircraft made an “emergency water landing,” the US military said, according to Japan’s vice defense chief.

The Yakushima Airport Management Office in Kagoshima Prefecture received a call from the US military Wednesday afternoon requesting an emergency landing at Kagoshima Airport, a Kagoshima prefectural official told CNN.

The Kagoshima prefectural official did not specify if the request came from the US Marines or Air Force.

The government of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture asked the US military stationed on the island chain to ground all Ospreys following the crash.

“Given the concerns over the danger of Ospreys, as such unexpected incident became a reality, the only thing I can say is I regret it very much,” Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.

It is the latest crash to involve an Osprey military aircraft, with numerous accidents reported over the years.

In August this year three US Marines were killed and several others seriously wounded after an Osprey crashed during military exercises in Australia.

In 2022, five US Marines died after their MV-22B Osprey plane crashed during a training mission near Glamis, California. The same year four US service members were killed when their Osprey crashed during NATO training exercises in Norway.

The Osprey is a highly flexible aircraft that is can take off vertically like a helicopter but also carry out high speed cruising of a more conventional turboprop plane with wings.

Generally, Osprey are safe to fly, but the aircraft has had a history of mechanical and operational issues, since its inception in the 1980s, according to CNN military analyst and retired US Air Force Col. Cedric Leighton.

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