A US Navy has died and eight others are still missing 24 hours after their amphibious vehicle sank off the coast of California, the Marine Corps commander announced on Friday.
Five survivors were recovered and two Marines were seriously injured, out of the 16 soldiers who were in the vehicle at the time of the accident. This occurred during a routine exercise, General David Berger said during a press conference on the base of Camp Pendleton, in the south of the California.
The crash happened at around 5:45 p.m. local time on Thursday near San Clemente Island, about 100 miles off San Diego in southern California. A unit of the Marine Corps attempted to regain its ship after maneuvering the island aboard several amphibious assault vehicles, known as “AAV”, but it quickly sank to more than 300 meters below.
Eight missing, including seven Marines
Shortly after their departure, one of the crews reported that the vehicle was taking on water and two other vehicles came to its aid, as well as the so-called “safety” boat, which always accompanies this kind of maneuver, explained their unit commander, 1st Marine Corps Expeditionary Force, General Joseph Osterman.
Among the eight missing are seven soldiers from the Marines, the elite corps of the US Army whose specialty is landing operations, as well as a US Navy sailor who drove the vehicle, said the general. Osterman.
Rescue operations continue
The condition of one of the two injured Marines, who was described as critical hours earlier, has stabilized, he noted. Major operations are underway to find the eight missing, who are still considered alive.
“We are continuing the rescue operations. We have not yet moved on to the recovery operations” of the bodies, underlined General Osterman.
An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the accident and pending more information, all operations on board AAVs have been suspended.