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Three US marines missing after aircraft crashes off Australia

Three US marines are missing after their Osprey aircraft crashed into the sea off the east coast of Australia.

Twenty-three of the 26 personnel on board were rescued after the aircraft crashed as it came in to land, a spokesman for Marine base Camp Butler in Japan said.

The MV-22 Osprey had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard and was conducting regularly scheduled operations when it crashed into the water.

The ship's small boats and aircraft immediately responded in the search and rescue efforts.

The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like a plane. The Osprey has been involved in a series of high-profile crashes in recent years.

The aircraft was in Australia for a joint military training exercise held by the US 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.

Australian defence minister Marise Payne said the incident occurred off the coast of Shoalwater Bay in Queensland state.

"I can confirm no Australian Defence Force personnel were on board the aircraft," Ms Payne said in a statement.

"The United States are leading the search and recovery effort."

Ms Payne said she had spoken with US defence secretary Jim Mattis "to offer Australia's support in any way that can be of assistance".

The White House said that Donald Trump had been briefed on the matter by his chief of staff, John Kelly.

In 2015, a US Osprey crashed during a training exercise in Hawaii, killing two Marines.

Last December, a US military Osprey crash-landed off Japan's southern island of Okinawa. Its five crew members were rescued safely.

In January, three US soldiers were wounded in the "hard landing" of an Osprey in Yemen.

AP

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