Three U.S. Marines died Sunday after their Osprey aircraft came down during war games on a remote tropical island on the northern tip of Australia. Another 20 were injured with five flown to a hospital in a “serious condition.”
Twenty-three personnel were on board a fully loaded Bell MV-22B Osprey when it crashed on Melville Island, 30 miles off the coast from Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory.
Five were flown to Royal Darwin Hospital in a serious condition with one classified as “critical.”
Latest Information on the MV-22B Osprey Incident pic.twitter.com/OCeUJ6KwIe
— MRF-D (@MRFDarwin) August 27, 2023
The recovery efforts are ongoing.
“Those injured are 23 U.S. Marine Corps [personnel] and we are doing everything we can to return them safely back to Darwin for treatment,” NT Police Commissioner Michael Murphy said, ABC News reports.
“Five marines have been returned to Darwin for treatment with the remaining being triaged at the scene.
“Additional police and defence personnel have been deployed to Melville Island to support operations, triage injured people and return them to Darwin and also maintain the crash scene while investigations continue.”
Commissioner Murphy said after the crash occurred, a military aircraft was deployed “almost immediately” in response and emergency services were notified. He said the crash took place shortly before 9am about one mile inland on Melville Island.
The aircraft was one of two U.S. Osprey that left Darwin earlier in the day.
“This is about a mission to bring people home and get treatment to make sure they’re okay,” Commissioner Murphy said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the incident as “tragic” and “regrettable” but stressed that authorities were still trying to piece together what happened.
The Osprey — a mix between a helicopter and a plane — was taking part in the Predators Run exercises, a joint series of warfighting drills involving thousands of soldiers from the U.S. and Australia, as well as other militaries such as Indonesia and the Philippines.
Exercise Predators Run is the largest Australian Army-led exercise in the Northern Territory this year.
Sunday’s deadly accident was the second involving the U.S. Marine Corps. and an Osprey aircraft in a little over 12 months.
Five died when their aircraft came down near Glamis in southern California on the afternoon of June 8, 2022.
The Marine Corps. said that at the time of that “mishap,” the MV-22B Osprey and crew were conducting routine flight training.