- Australian personnel were not involved in the crash, says PM Anthony Albanese.
- Five marines “transported to Royal Darwin Hospital in serious condition.
- Cause of crash is being investigated.
SYDNEY: At least three US Marines on board a MV-22 Osprey helicopter were killed after the aircraft crashed during a military drill in Australia’s Northern Territory, Reuters reported on Sunday.
According to Marine Rotation Force’s press release, five marines were “transported to Royal Darwin Hospital in serious condition”.
The communique added that the dead were among 23 Marines onboard the aircraft which was taking part in routine military drills. The cause of the crash is being investigated.
Calling the incident tragic, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government was focused on providing support.
“Our focus as a government and as a department of defence is very much on incident response and on making sure that every support and assistance is given at this difficult time,” the prime minister told a previously scheduled press conference in Western Australia.
Australian personnel were not involved in the crash that occurred during Exercise Predator’s Run 2023, Albanese added.
Earlier it was reported that Northern Territory Police were responding to reports of an aircraft crash on Melville Island, the fire and emergency services said in an emailed statement.
The US Defense Department was aware of media reports about the crash “but we do not have anything we can provide at this time”, a duty officer said in an emailed statement.
According to Sky News, about 2,500 personnel from Australia, the US, the Philippines, Indonesia and East Timor were taking part in the military drills exercises.
The US and Australia, a key ally in the Pacific, have been stepping up military cooperation in recent years in the face of an increasingly assertive China.
Last month, four Australian soldiers were killed during large bilateral exercises when their helicopter crashed into the ocean off the coast of Queensland.
According to the US Air Force, Ospreys are tilt-rotor aircraft that have features of both helicopters and turboprop planes.
The hybrid craft, which travels much quicker than a conventional helicopter, has two swivelling engines positioned on fixed wingtips that allow it to land and take off vertically.