One United States Marine was declared dead and five remained missing on Thursday after two American aircraft collided and crashed off the coast of Japan, officials said.

A seventh Marine was rescued and was in fair condition, the Marine Corps said in a statement.

The accident, which occurred around 2 a.m. Thursday about 200 miles off the coast of Japan, involved a KC-130 Hercules, a turboprop airplane capable of aerial refueling, and an F/A-18 Hornet, a combat jet.

The aircraft had taken off from a base at Iwakuni, in southern Japan, and were conducting a training exercise, the Marine Corps said. “Aerial refueling was a part of the training,” officials said, but “what was taking place when the mishap occurred” remained under investigation.

Ships and aircraft with the United States Seventh Fleet, joined by the Japanese Coast Guard and Maritime Self-Defense Force, were continuing to search for the missing Marines.

A report by the Military Times in April found that the accident rate for American military warplanes had climbed by nearly 40 percent over the past five years. Among the Marine Corps and the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets, the rate had doubled, the newspaper said.

The accident is the latest in a series involving the United States military in Asia. Seven sailors died in a collision last year between a Navy destroyer and a container ship off the coast of eastern Japan. Just two months later, 10 sailors were killed in a collision between another Navy destroyer and an oil tanker near Singapore.

The Navy determined that the deadly collisions were the result of missed warnings and basic errors that could have been avoided. Three months after the collision near Singapore, an aircraft crashed in the Philippine Sea, and eight of the 11 crew and passengers were rescued.

That was the fifth accident of 2017 for the Seventh Fleet, the Navy’s largest overseas, and problems continued in 2018. This fall, two aircraft assigned to the carrier Ronald Reagan crashed, and in November, two aviators were rescued northeast of the Philippines after a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet with a mechanical problem crashed into the Western Pacific. That followed a crash by an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter on the deck of the Ronald Reagan in October that injured 12 sailors.



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