A day after the tragic crash of a US military plane during maneuvers in Australia, in which three people died and eight were seriously injured, the remaining occupants of the plane were rescued largely unharmed. The authorities confirmed to the AFP news agency on Monday that the missing 15 marines had now been tracked down. They either suffered minor injuries or were unharmed.
Northern Territories Police Chief Michael Murphy described the crash site as "dense scrubland." Speaking to local media, he said rescue work in the difficult-to-reach area benefited from the proximity of an airstrip. As a result, and thanks to well-coordinated rescue efforts, some of the injured could have been treated more quickly - "which probably saved some lives".
Three soldiers were killed in the crash on a remote island in the north of the country on Sunday, and eight other marines were seriously injured, according to a US Army spokesman. The Osprey machine had a total of 23 occupants on board when it crashed for reasons that were initially unclear.
The accident happened on Melville Island about 60 kilometers north of mainland Australia. The rescue work was complicated by the remote location of the sparsely populated island.
According to initial findings during the investigation into the cause of the crash, Darwin Airport air traffic control sent messages from the crash site, among other things. There was talk of dark smoke and a "significant fire".
The crashed plane had taken part in the large-scale military exercise "Predators Run", in which thousands of soldiers from the USA and Australia as well as military from Indonesia and the Philippines are involved. With China's growing influence in the region, Northern Australia has recently become a key area for US Army military exercises.
Looking like a hybrid between an airplane and a helicopter, Ospreys can take off and land vertically like helicopters, while also being able to fly much faster than normal helicopters.
There had been a number of fatal accidents with the machines in recent years. Four US Marines were killed when a V-22B Osprey crashed during a NATO exercise in Norway last November. In 2017, three US Marines died in an unsuccessful landing maneuver on a ship off the north coast of Australia, and in 2000, 19 Marines were killed in a crash during an exercise in the US state of Arizona.
In the spring, due to a series of security incidents, the US Army called up all pilots who were not on essential missions for additional training.