Three U.S. Marines were killed and 20 others injured Sunday when the military helicopter they were riding in crashed during an exercise in Australia’s Northern Territory.
The MV-22B Osprey helicopter carrying more than 20 U.S. Marines crashed around 9:30 a.m. local time on Melville Island off the coast of Darwin. Military personnel from the U.S., Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste were participating in exercise drills at the time of the incident.
According to a statement from a spokesperson from Australia’s Department of Defence, no Australians were involved in the crash.
“Defence can confirm an aircraft incident occurred mid-morning on 27 August on Melville Island, north of the city of Darwin, during Exercise Predator’s Run 2023,” the spokesperson said. “Initial reports suggest the incident involves United States defense personnel and that Australian Defence Force members were not involved. At this critical early stage, our focus is on the incident response and ensuring the safety of those involved.”
Multiple personnel were rescued from the crash on the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin. The Marine Rotational Force in Darwin confirmed in a statement that three were killed in the crash, while five were transported to Royal Darwin Hospital in serious condition. Recovery efforts are ongoing, and an investigation has been launched into the crash.
At a press conference, Northern Territory Police Commissioner Michael Murphy said efforts were ongoing to return the injured to Darwin for treatment.
“We are doing everything we can to return them safely to Darwin for treatment,” Murphy said in Darwin.
Victims sustained a wide range of injuries, with some being critically injured, according to Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called the crash a “tragic” incident at a previously scheduled press conference in Western Australia. He said Australia’s focus is on incident response and supporting those involved.
“Our focus as a government and as a department of defense is very much on incident response and on making sure that every support and assistance is given at this difficult time,” the Prime Minister said.
The U.S. Department of Defense said it is “aware of the public reporting on this, but we do not have anything we can provide at this time.”
Exercises for Predators’ Run have been suspended following the crash, Sky News reported. Approximately 2,500 people were involved in the exercises, including 500 from the U.S., 120 from the Philippines, 120 from Indonesia, and 50 from Timor Leste.
No further information has been released in regards to the investigation, or the cause of the crash.