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27 Aug, 2023 08:54

Three dead in US military helicopter crash in Australia

Five wounded American marines were taken to the hospital in serious condition, the local authorities have said
Three dead in US military helicopter crash in Australia

A US military helicopter with 23 American marines aboard has crashed off the coast of Australia, leaving at least three service members dead and all others injured, local officials said on Sunday.

In a statement on Sunday, the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin said the incident involved an MV-22B Osprey aircraft which went down on Melville Island in the northern part of the country at around 9:30am local time. The crash occurred during the Predators Run drill as the helicopter was “transporting troops during a routine training exercise,” the department said.

“Three have been confirmed deceased while five others were transported to Royal Darwin Hospital in serious condition,” it noted, adding that the investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

The Predators Run drill 2023 involves more than 2,500 troops from Australia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, and Indonesia.

In a statement quoted by Sky News, the Australian Defense Force said that preliminary data indicates that the incident involved only US troops. “At this critical early stage, our focus is on the incident response and ensuring the safety of those involved,” it added.

Later, the Northern Territory’s chief minister, Natasha Fyles, confirmed media reports that all those aboard were American service members, who she said sustained “a wide range of injuries.” ABC reported, citing local emergency services, that one of those who was injured is in critical condition.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the incident as “regrettable,” adding that Canberra officials remain in touch with their American counterparts.

According to Sky News, the Predators Run exercise will be temporarily suspended in light of the crash.

The incident came after the US and Australia agreed last month to expand Washington’s military footprint on the continent in a bid to deter China in the Pacific. The deepened cooperation included longer visits by American submarines and a regular rotation of US Army watercraft.

At the time, the two nations also held major military drills – Talisman Sabre – involving more than 34,000 personnel. The games, incidentally, were paused after an Australian MRH-90 Taipan helicopter crashed off the country’s northern coast, killing four soldiers.