Five Marines Missing After US Aircraft Collide

Rescuers have only found two of the seven crew members...

A US F/A-18 (Picture: US Department of Defense). 

A US Marine refuelling plane and a fighter jet have crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Japan's south-western coast after colliding.

The US Marine Corps said that the 2am crash involved an F/A-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 refuelling aircraft during regular refuelling training after the planes took off from their base in Iwakuni, near Hiroshima, in western Japan.

So far, rescuers have only found two of the seven crew members.

According to the US Marine Corps, one is in "fair condition" and the other "has been declared deceased by competent medical personnel".

The crash took place 200 miles off the coast, according to the US military.

Japanese officials said it occurred closer to the coast, about 60 miles, and that is where the search and rescue mission found two crew members.

There were two crew members in the F/A-18 and five in the KC-130, when they collided and crashed into the sea south of the Muroto Cape on Shikoku island in southwestern Japan.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The Maritime Self-Defence Force, which dispatched aircraft and vessels to join in the search operation, said Japanese rescuers found one of the crew from the fighter jet in stable condition.

The Marines said that the rescued crew member was taken to a hospital on the base in Iwakuni, but did not provide any other details.

The crash is the latest in a recent series of accidents involving the US military deployed to and near Japan.

Last month, a US Navy F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan crashed into the sea southwest of Japan's southern island of Okinawa, though its two pilots were rescued safely.

In mid-October, a MH-60 Seahawk also belonging to the Ronald Reagan crashed off the Philippine Sea shortly after takeoff, causing non-fatal injuries to a dozen sailors.

More than 50,000 US troops are based in Japan under the bilateral security pact.