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Three US Marines were killed and five were in serious condition after an Osprey plane crashed during “routine” military exercises in Australia, the country’s Marine Corps and authorities said.
The plane had 23 people on board when it crashed at around 9:30 a.m. local time on Sunday in a remote area of Melville Island off the coast of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory, the Marine Rotational Force said – Darwin said in a statement opinion. The five seriously injured Marines were taken to the Royal Darwin Hospital for treatment.
The cause of the crash is unknown and is being investigated, the statement said. The Marine Corps did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Sunday.
The Marines were flying in support of Exercise Predator’s Run, a joint military exercise involving troops from Australia, the United States and other countries, the force added.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called the crash “tragic,” Reuters reported, and Northern Territory Incident head Matthew Hollamby called it “a momentous incident.” He said in a statement that all necessary resources would be deployed.
Northern Territory Premier Natasha Fyles said Sunday the plane crashed in a remote area and no civilians were injured. She said an emergency response was underway to triage the crash victims and transport them to the hospital.
“Australia and the US are working together to respond to this incident,” she said.
Northern Territory Police Commissioner Michael Murphy said Melville Island had a long history as a base for military exercises and an emergency response was launched almost immediately after the first reports of a crash.
The US Marine Corps primarily uses the MV-22B Osprey – a tiltrotor aircraft that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter and can switch in the air fly like a fixed-wing aircraft – to transport troops and equipment.
But the plane’s safety record was put to the test after several fatal crashes.
Last June, five Marines were killed when their Osprey crashed near Glamis, California, just north of the Mexico border.
Five Marines killed in Osprey crash in California desert
Three months earlier, an Osprey crashed during a NATO exercise in Norway, killing four American soldiers.
Four US soldiers were killed in a plane crash in Norway during a NATO exercise
In 2017, an osprey crashed in Syria, injuring two. That year, three marines were also killed in a crash in Australia. One of the Osprey’s deadliest crashes occurred in April 2000, killing all 19 Marines on board.
The latest incident comes about a month after the deaths of four Australian soldiers when their MRH-90 Taipain helicopter crashed off the coast of Queensland in eastern Australia. This crash occurred during another joint military exercise with US forces called Talisman Saber.
Alex Horton and Andrew Jeong contributed to this report.