A U.S. Navy aircraft carrying 11 crewmembers and passengers, crashed into the ocean southeast of Okinawa Wednesday afternoon, the Seventh Fleet said.
Japan's defense minister says eight of the crew and passengers on the plane have been found, but it's unclear if they're alive.
The C2-A Greyhound aircraft was on a routine flight from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in southern Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, which is now in the Philippine Sea on exercises with Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force.
"Search and rescue" for the remaining three people is still underway, the Navy says. It was taking part in an ongoing joint U.S. -Japan naval exercise.
Japanese and American rescuers scrambled to reach the downed aircraft in seas off the remote Japanese reef of Okinotori, in the latest accident to hit American armed forces in East Asia. The cause of the crash is not known, the Seventh Fleet said in a statement.
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There was no immediate information on what kind of aircraft was involved, but over 60 planes and helicopters of different types operate from the USS Ronald Reagan, according to the carrier group's website.
Reports say USA military vessels has recently involved in several numbers of accidents in recent time in East Asia. In January, the USS Antietam ran aground off the coast of Japan, damaging its propellers and spilling oil into the water.
The US Navy lost 10 personnel in August, when the USS John McCain collided with a tanker near Singapore.
"I just pray we never have to shoot down a missile from North Korea", one sailor lamented, according to the Navy Times, "because then our ineffectiveness will really show".