UPDATE @ 6:10am 7 August
The search and rescue mission for three US Marines missing after their heli-plane crashed off the central Queensland coast Saturday afternoon has now become a recovery mission.
The III Marine Expeditionary Force, whose personnel were aboard the MV-22 Osprey when it crashed, said the next-of-kin of the three missing Marines had been notified of the change after “continuous, sustained search efforts” were unsuccessful.
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The soldiers were involved in what was described as a “mishap” on Saturday afternoon during a military exercise on Saturday afternoon.
US military authorities have been scouring waters at Shoalwater Bay, north of Rockhampton.
23 other personnel on board have been accounted for.
A salvage operation is expected to commence in the coming days.
EARLIER @ 6.31am 6 August
Three US marines are missing in water off Queensland’s central coast after their military plane crashed into the sea on Saturday afternoon.
The United States is leading the search and rescue operation from the USS Bonhomme Richard, which is stationed at Shoalwater Bay, north of Rockhampton.
In a statement, the Marine Corps confirmed the MV-22 Osprey plane had launched from the amphibious assault ship for “regular scheduled operations”.
“The ship’s small boats and aircraft immediately responded in the search and rescue effort” it said.
26 personnel, including crew were on board. 23 were rescued but some had reportedly suffered serious injuries.
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) August 5, 2017
Minister for Defence Marise Payne has confirmed that no Australian Defence Force personnel were on board the aircraft.
Ms Payne has briefed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the situation and spoken with US Defense Secretary James Mattis to offer Australia’s support.
“Our thoughts are with the crew and families affected,” she said.
I have offered our support to the US following the MV-22 incident today & confirm no ADF personnel were on board: https://t.co/VtPkLt3Qlc
— Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) August 5, 2017
US President Donald Trump has also been briefed.
— CNN (@CNN) August 5, 2017
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk offered her government’s support to the search and rescue efforts.
“In recent weeks, many Queenslanders have had the opportunity to meet US servicemen and servicewoman visiting as they prepare for the joint military exercise Talisman Sabre in central Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk said in a statement.
“On behalf of all Queenslanders, our prayers are with those US military personnel involved in the incident,” she added.