US suspends search for missing marines off Australia coast

:: US officials on Sunday suspended their search and rescue mission to locate three Marines who went missing after their aircraft crashed off the Australian coast, the media reported.

An MV-22 Osprey, a hybrid aircraft, crashed into the the waters off the coast of Shoalwater Bay, in Queensland state at around 4 p.m., on Saturday, reports The New York Times.

There were 26 personnel onboard the Osprey at the time of the accident, and 23 have been rescued, the III Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Okinawa, Japan, said in a statement.

The expeditionary force said the Navy and Marine Corps had suspended search and rescue efforts for the three remaining Marines at around 3 a.m., on Sunday.

“Operations have now shifted to recovery efforts,” the statement said, adding “The next-of-kin for the three missing Marines have been notified.

“As the sea state permits, recovery efforts will be conducted to further search, assess and survey the area. Recovery and salvage operations can take several months to complete,” The New York Times quoted the statement as saying.

The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that can lift off without a runway, like a helicopter, and cruise like an airplane while in flight.

First developed during the 1980s, it got off to a rocky start over safety concerns. A crash in Arizona in 2000 killed all 19 Marines on board.

US military forces have been operating in the area as part of a joint training exercise called Talisman Sabre. It involved some 30,000 personnel from both countries.

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