HALEIWA, Hawaii – High waves have hampered the search for 12 US Marines missing at sea after two helicopters collided near the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
Two coast guard cutters and several aircraft were involved in the search on Friday night, along with two US Navy warships and local police and fire department helicopters, the coast guard said. The debris field spanned more than seven miles off the coast.
Chief petty officer Sara Mooers of the coast guard told the Associated Press that the marine corps reported a collision of two helicopters off the coast just before midnight. The aircraft had been taking part in a nighttime training mission.
Mooers said each aircraft had six people aboard. She said a debris field had been spotted roughly two and a half miles off the coast, near the town of Haleiwa, and that coast guard cutters, a navy helicopter and a Honolulu fire department rescue boat have responded to the incident.
Darkness and high surf, however, were complicating the search efforts, according to Mooers, who said that a high surf advisory was in effect for waves 10 to 15 feet high building throughout the morning.
Marine Captain Timothy Irish stated that the crash involved two Sikorsky CH-53E transport helicopters, also known as Super Stallions, from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and that an active search and rescue was under way. The marine corps tweeted confirmation of the helicopters’ type and home base:
There was no immediate word on what had caused the collision or if any survivors have been found.