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US Navy aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers crashes into Philippine Sea

US Navy markings on the side of a restored vintage aircraft.

A US Navy aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed into the Pacific Ocean, southeast of Okinawa on Wednesday.

Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters that 10 or 11 people were aboard the C-2 transport aircraft, of which eight had been rescued. The rest are missing, and both US and Japanese forces are searching for them, he said to reporters.

“I have been informed from the US military that engine trouble may have caused [the crash],” Onodera said.

It was not clear what happened to the people onboard based on a statement from the US Navy. “Personnel recovery is underway and their condition will be evaluated,” it had stated. Their names are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

The crash happened approximately 2:45 p.m. local time, as the aircraft was heading to the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which is operating in the Philippine Sea.

The aircraft carrier is conducting search-and-rescue operations. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces have also dispatched ships, Onodera said.

The cause of the crash is not known at this time, according to the statement from the US Navy 7th Fleet.

Earlier this year, the Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was relieved of his duty as the commander of the US 7th Fleet, following a spate of incidents.