(Bloomberg) -- Five bodies have been found along with the submerged wreckage of a US military Osprey aircraft that crashed in southwestern Japan last week, the US Air Force said.
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The bodies of two of the crew members have been recovered and efforts are underway to recover the other three, Air Force Special Operations Command said in a statement late Monday. The identities of the five have yet to be determined and the ongoing operation includes combined US and Japanese divers and surface ships.
The CV-22 Osprey with eight people aboard and operated by the Air Force plunged into the sea Wednesday off the island of Yakushima, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) southwest of Tokyo. The body of one victim was found the same day, and he was later identified by the Air Force as Staff Sergeant Jacob Galliher, 24.
“The coalition of military, coast guard, law enforcement, mariners, and local volunteers remain steadfast in locating and bringing the US Service Members back to their units and their families,” the command said in its statement.
Tokyo has called for US Forces in Japan to suspend the use of the Osprey, which has been involved in several fatal crashes, until checks can be made. The US side appears to have effectively rejected the request, in a step that could worsen often difficult ties between its forces and the local communities that host them.
According to a statement issued earlier by Japan’s Ministry of Defense, the US has six CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo and 24 MV-22 Ospreys at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the southern island of Okinawa. The US continued to operate Ospreys on the island after the Japanese government request on Nov. 30, the ministry said.
Read more: US Rejects Japanese Request to Ground Ospreys After Deadly Crash
Pentagon deputy spokeswoman Sabrina Singh released a statement Friday saying Osprey flights have been suspended in the Air Force unit that flew the crashed plane. She said the tilt-rotor aircraft in Japan operate “only after undergoing thorough maintenance and safety checks.”
In August, three US Marines were killed and five others critically injured after a V-22 Osprey went down while performing drills off the coast of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory. Prior incidents with the V-22 Osprey included a crash in 2000 that killed 19 Marines in Arizona. The accident was blamed on pilot error.
(Updates with confirmation of five additional bodies found from US military.)
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