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10 Marines missing after copters crash off Djibouti

Associated Press
Published February 18, 2006


WASHINGTON - Two Marine Corps transport helicopters carrying a dozen troops crashed Friday off the coast of Djibouti, and two were rescued in the initial search, the Pentagon said.

The status of the other 10 aboard the CH-53E helicopters was not immediately known, officials said.

A search-and-rescue mission by troops from the United States, Djibouti and France was under way, according to a statement issued by Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, a U.S.-led military force headquartered at Camp Lemonier, a French military base in Djibouti.

The helicopters were on a nighttime training mission at the time of the crash, whose cause had not been determined Friday night.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Joe Carpenter, said there was no indication of hostile fire.

Members of the Djiboutian military notified U.S. officials about 5:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. EST) that the helicopters had crashed in the Gulf of Aden not far from the Djiboutian coastal town of Ras Siyyan.

Djiboutian military members who were near the impact site were able to rescue two injured crew members, according to the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa statement. The two were transported to Camp Lemonier and were listed in stable condition.

Djibouti is between Somalia and Ethiopia.

The CH-53E Super Stallion, valued at $26-million per aircraft, has been in service with the Marine Corps since 1981. Its main role is to transport heavy equipment and supplies during the ship-to-shore movement of an amphibious assault and during subsequent operations ashore. It is made by Sikorsky Aircraft and powered by three turboshaft engines.