Marine helicopters collide off Oahu, search underway


HALEIWA, Hawaii (AP) — Two Marine Corps helicopters carrying six crew members each collided and went down off the Hawaiian island of Oahu while on a nighttime training mission, and rescuers searched choppy waters today where debris had been sighted, military officials said.

There was no immediate word on the fate of those aboard or what caused the accident.

The transport helicopters known as CH-53Es crashed just before midnight Thursday, officials said.

A Coast Guard helicopter and C-130 airplane spotted a debris field 2 1/2 miles offshore early today. The debris covered an area of 2 miles, Marine Capt. Timothy Irish said.

The choppers are part of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. Known as Super Stallions, they are the U.S. military's largest helicopter, capable of carrying a light armored vehicle, 16 tons of cargo or a team of combat-equipped Marines, according to a Marine Corps website.

The search included aircraft from the Navy and Air Force, a Honolulu Fire Department rescue boat and Coast Guard cutters, officials said.

About two dozen Marines gathered Friday morning on the beach at Waimea Bay, a popular surfing spot a few miles from the rescue operation.

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