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US military aircraft carrying eight people crashes into sea off Japan

A rescue operation is under way (Kyodo News via AP)
A rescue operation is under way (Kyodo News via AP)

Japan’s coast guard has found one person and debris in the ocean where a US military Osprey aircraft carrying eight people crashed off southern Japan, officials said.

The cause of the crash and the status of the person and the others on the aircraft were not immediately known, coast guard spokesperson Kazuo Ogawa added.

The coast guard received an emergency call from a fishing boat near the crash site off Yakushima, an island south of Kagoshima on the southern main island of Kyushu.

Coast guard aircraft and patrol boats found one person and grey-coloured debris believed to be from the aircraft, Mr Ogawa said.

The Osprey is a hybrid aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but during flight can rotate its propellers forward and cruise much faster like an aeroplane. Versions of the aircraft are flown by the US Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.

Mr Ogawa said the aircraft had departed from the US Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi prefecture and crashed on its way to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

The Osprey apparently attempted to make an emergency landing at the Yakushima airport before crashing, he said.

American and Japanese officials said the aircraft belonged to Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo. U

US Air Force officials at Yokota said they are still confirming information and have no immediate comment.

A US Marine Corps Osprey aircraft with 23 Marines aboard crashed on a north Australian island in August, killing at least three and critically injuring at least five during a multinational training exercise.

There have been at least five fatal crashes of Marine Ospreys since 2012, causing at least 19 deaths.