A U.S. military Osprey aircraft crashed into the ocean Wednesday near the small southern Japanese island of Yakushima with 8 people on board, killing at least one crew member, a U.S. defense official confirmed to CBS News.
An official with Japan’s coast guard told CBS News that one crew member was recovered dead and search operations were continuing into the night for the others from the Osprey.
The official told CBS News that two helicopters and six boats were involved in the search operation. U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command said in a statement the Osprey was performing a routine training mission.
Coast guard spokesperson Kazuo Ogawa was quoted earlier by the Agence France-Presse news agency as saying an emergency call came in from a fishing boat to report the crash. He said there were eight people on the Osprey, a figure that the coast guard later revised to six before the U.S. defense official said that eight airmen were on board.
Japanese national broadcaster NHK aired video from a helicopter showing a coast guard vessel at the site with one bright orange inflatable life raft seen on the water, but nobody in it.
NHK said an eyewitness reported seeing the aircraft’s left engine on fire before it went down about 600 miles southwest of Tokyo, off the east coast of Yakushima.
The Kagoshima regional government said later that the Osprey had been flying alongside another aircraft of the same type, which landed safely on Yakushima island.