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U.S. military fighter, air tanker collide, two crew members rescued

All TV networks reported in their noon news programs on the collision between an Iwakuni-based FA-18 fighter and KC-130 air tanker this morning. The reports said that one crew member of the FA-18 was rescued by an MSDF helicopter and taken to the hospital on the Iwakuni base and his condition is reportedly “stable,” while search and rescue operations are still underway for the remaining U.S. service members. NHK followed up with an online report saying a second crew member has been rescued but no details of his/her condition are immediately available.

 

NHK, Fuji TV, TV Asahi, and TBS all reported on Defense Minister Iwaya’s remarks this morning that no damage to civilian vessels was reported, SDF aircraft and ships are making utmost efforts to locate the remaining crew members, and the U.S. Forces have been asked to provide information to the local governments promptly. NHK and NTV also reported that Iwakuni Mayor Fukuda said in a statement that he has asked that “the suspension of aircraft operations be considered until the cause of this incident becomes clear and that thorough measures be taken to investigate the cause of the accident and prevent a recurrence.” All networks noted that a number of mishaps involving aircraft from MCAS Iwakuni have occurred recently.

 

Meanwhile Jiji Press reported online that at a symposium in Tokyo this morning Ambassador Hagerty commented on the collision. He reportedly said: “It is encouraging that Japan and the U.S. are cooperating in their response and the Self-Defense Forces immediately participated in the search and rescue operation.” He expressed his gratitude to the Japanese side.

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