Rescue Efforts Suspended for 3 Marines Missing After Osprey Aircraft Crashes Near Australia

A handout photo made available by the United States Marine Corps. shows recovery efforts for three U.S. marines involved in the Aug. 5 MV-22 Osprey mishap off the east coast of Australia on Aug. 6, 2017. MC2 SARAH VILLEGAS / HANDOUT / EPA

Search-and-rescue efforts have been suspended for three U.S. Marines missing after the tilt-rotor aircraft they were in crashed into the sea off of Australia Saturday, the U.S. military said.

The search was suspended at around 3 a.m. local time Sunday (1 p.m. Saturday ET), the Marine Corps Base Camp Butler in Okinawa said in a statement. It said operations have shifted to a recovery effort.

“The transition comes after teams led continuous sustained search efforts supported by aircraft and ships,” the base said in the statement.

The MV-22 Osprey heli-plane went down in the water on its final approach to the USS Green Bay at 4:07 p.m. Saturday local time (2:07 a.m. ET) off the east coast of Australia, military officials said. The aircraft hit the flight deck and then went into Shoalwater Bay, the officials said.

There were 26 people on board including the crew and 23 of the 26 were later rescued, the military said.

The aircraft was in Australia for a joint military training exercise held by the U.S. and Australia last month in Shoalwater Bay. The Talisman Sabre exercise, a biennial event between the two nations, involved more than 30,000 troops and 200 aircraft.

At the time of Saturday’s incident, the weather was described as good. The next of kin for the three missing Marines have been notified, the military said. The deck of the USS Green Bay was damaged in the incident.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Phil Helsel and Courtney Kube