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Japan asks US to stop flying Osprey military aircraft after deadly crash

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Japan asks US to stop flying Osprey military aircraft after deadly crash

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TOKYO — Japan has asked the US military to ground its Osprey hybrid planes, as search and rescue operations continue following Wednesday’s deadly crash.

The pause should last until the aircraft can be confirmed as safe, Japan’s NHK broadcaster cited the defence ministry as saying.

One crew member has been confirmed dead from the crash off Yakushima island. The search for six others continues.

First introduced in 2007, Ospreys have a history marked by fatal crashes.

Japan has temporarily grounded its own Ospreys, which function as a helicopter and a turboprop aircraft,

The aircraft that went down on Wednesday was thought to be heading from Iwakuni base in the western Yamaguchi prefecture to Kadena base in the country’s south-westernmost Okinawa region.

Japan’s defence ministry said the aircraft disappeared from the radar at 14:40 local time (05:40 GMT) on Wednesday.

Earlier reports said eight people were on board the aircraft, but that number was later revised down to seven by the Japanese Coast Guard.

They have recovered what appeared to be pieces of wreckage near the coast of the island in southern Japan.

The Osprey, from Yokota Air Base, experienced “an aircraft mishap” during a routine training mission, US Air Forces Special Operations Command said in a statement, adding that the cause of the mishap is unknown.

Earlier reports said eight people were on board the aircraft, but that number was later revised down to seven by the Coast Guard.

It posted photos of what is believed to be the plane’s wreckage off Yakushima.

Yakushima, in Kagoshima prefecture, is located south of Japan’s Kyushu island.

More than 50,000 US troops are stationed across Japan.

An Osprey crashed in northern Australia in August this year, killing three US marines. A similar incident in 2017 also killed three marines when an Osprey crashed after clipping the back of a transport ship while trying to land at sea off Australia’s northern coast. — BBC

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