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U.S. military Osprey aircraft crashes off coast of southwestern Japan

One of two MV22 Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft arrives at the Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture on Aug. 3, 2013.
Jiji Press
AFP via Getty Images
One of two MV22 Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft arrives at the Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture on Aug. 3, 2013.

Updated November 29, 2023 at 4:48 AM ET

SEOUL — A U.S. military Osprey aircraft has crashed off the coast of southwestern Japan, according to Japan's Defense Ministry. Japan's coast guard has sent ships and planes to search the area around the crash site.

Initial reports said the aircraft had eight people on board, but public broadcaster NHK cited information from the U.S. military indicating six were on board.

NHK reported that rescuers found three people near the crash site, but their condition is unknown.

Japan's Defense Ministry said the coast guard received an emergency call about the crash of a U.S. military Osprey aircraft. The ministry said the aircraft took off from the city of Iwakuni, home to a U.S. Marine Corps Air Station, and was headed for Kadena Air Base on the island of Okinawa.

Local media report that eyewitnesses saw the aircraft going down off of Yakushima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture with one engine on fire.

U.S. and Japanese authorities say the planes are safe, but some Japanese residents disagree and have protested their deployment in their communities.

Ospreys are a cross between an airplane and a helicopter. In August, an Osprey crashed off the coast of northern Australia, killing three U.S. marines.

There have been five fatal crashes involving Marine Ospreys since 2012, according to the Associated Press, killing at least 19 people.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.