Three Marines have been confirmed dead after a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey carrying 23 soldiers crashed in Australia on Sunday.
Five other people in serious condition were transported to the Royal Darwin Hospital after the crash on Melville Island north of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, according to a statement by Marine Rotational Force-Darwin on Sunday.
“Recovery efforts are underway,” the statement said, indicating no other people had been found on board the plane.
According to the statement, the Osprey transported Marines to a routine exercise, the Exercise Predators Run. The crash happened around 9:30 a.m. local time.
The cause of the crash is currently being investigated, the statement said.
The Marine Corps did not name the Marines who died. For political reasons, the military generally waits 24 hours after notifying next of kin of a death before publicly announcing the name of a deceased military member.
One of the injured was operated on at the Royal Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory Premier Natasha Fyles said around six hours after the crash.
“We recognize this is a horrific incident,” Fyles said. “The Northern Territory Government stands ready to offer any assistance needed.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said only Americans were injured in the crash during exercise Predators Run, which involved forces from the United States, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor.
Around 150 US Marines are currently stationed in Darwin, Australia, and up to 2,500 rotate through the city each year. They are part of a rebalancing of forces in the Asia-Pacific region, broadly aimed at confronting an increasingly assertive China.
The 12-day exercise is scheduled to end on September 7th. The exercise involves troops on land, at sea and in the air.
This was the Navy’s second fatal plane crash in less than a week. Maj. Andrew “Simple Jack” Mettler died Thursday after his F/A-18D Hornet jet crashed near Miramar, California.
The MV-22 Osprey, a tiltrotor aircraft that can take off and land vertically but flies forward like an airplane, has been the focus of other tragedies in recent years.
In March 2022, four marines were killed in an Osprey crash in Norway. The Marine Corps later attributed the mishap to pilot error.
A June 2022 Osprey crash in California killed five Marines, which the Marine Corps said in July was due to a mechanical failure of the clutch.
This “hard clutch” problem prompted the V-22 program office in February to ground an undisclosed number of Ospreys throughout military service. The bureau claimed in July it had reduced the risk of hard clutch engagement by 99%.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Irene Loewenson is a reporter for the Marine Corps Times. In August 2022, she joined the Military Times as an editor. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.