Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images
SEOUL — A U.S. military Osprey aircraft crashed off the coast of southwestern Japan with eight people on board. Japan’s coast guard has sent ships and planes to search the area around the crash site.
Japanese public broadcaster 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.