The US military and Japan's Self-Defense Forces are searching for 5 American service members off the coast of western Japan. 7 members were on board 2 military planes that collided mid-air Thursday morning, but 2 of them have been rescued.
Japan's Defense Ministry says an FA-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 refueling aircraft, both from the US Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station, collided around 100 kilometers south of Cape Muroto in Kochi Prefecture at around 1:40 AM and crashed into waters.
It says there were 2 crew members on the fighter jet and 5 on the tanker. One from the fighter jet was rescued by a Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter about 4 hours later and transported to the Iwakuni base, and is reportedly conscious.
Another crew member was rescued more than 10 hours after the accident but his or her condition is so far unknown.
The 2 aircraft were reportedly conducting training, but details remain unknown. The Defense Ministry is asking the US forces to provide more information.
Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters that 6 helicopters and 3 vessels from the Self-Defense Forces are currently taking part in search and rescue operations.
Iwaya said the accident is regrettable, but added that all-out efforts should be made to find the missing crew members. He said the ministry will promptly communicate any new information to relevant local authorities. He vowed that the ministry will take appropriate action as soon as specific information is made available.