Three dead after US military aircraft crashes off Darwin

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Three American military personnel have died and five more are in a serious condition after the aircraft they were in crashed on an island near Darwin today.

Marine Rotational Force-Darwin this evening confirmed the three died in the accident on Melville Island around 1130 Australian Eastern Standard Time.

The marines were aboard an MV-22B Osprey rotor-tilt aircraft which was transporting troops as part of Exercise Predators Run. There were 23 aboard the aircraft.

The five injured have been transported to Royal Darwin Hospital.

“Recovery efforts are ongoing. The cause of the incident is under investigation,” the agency said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Defence Force said Australian personnel were not involved.

“Initial reports suggest the incident involves United States defence personnel and that Australian Defence Force members were not involved,” they said.

“At this critical early stage, our focus is on the incident response and ensuring the safety of those involved.”

The accident involves a US Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft which can land and take off both vertically or on a short runway.

The aircraft is in Australia for Exercise Predators Run, which began on August 21 and is slated to continue until September 8.

Up to 500 US personnel are participating in the exercise as well as troops from Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

A US Osprey went down off the coast of Darwin.Credit: Getty

The incident occurred a month after four Australian personnel were killed when their MRH-90 Taipan helicopter crashed off the Whitsundays in Queensland. They were taking part in the Talisman Sabre exercises.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said of the 23 personnel on the aircraft there were a wide-range of injuries.

“I feel very confident in the resources here in the Northern Territory care for these people. Our thoughts are with them and their families back in the United States and I want to reassure them we will give them that care,” she said.

Fyles said the Royal Darwin Hospital’s emergency department and some of its wards were being cleared to accommodate the injured personnel being moved from Melville Island to Darwin.

The Darwin private hospital could be used to provide extra accommodation.

NT Police Commissioner Michael Murphy said the accident had occurred near a runway on Melville Island.

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