Five others in serious condition were transported to Royal Darwin Hospital following the crash on Melville Island, north of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, according to a Sunday statement from Marine Rotational Force-Darwin.
“Recovery efforts are ongoing,” the statement said, indicating that others aboard the aircraft hadn’t yet been found.
The Osprey was transporting Marines to a routine training exercise, Exercise Predators Run, according to the statement. The crash took place at approximately 9:30 a.m. local time.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, according to the statement.
The Marine Corps did not state the names of the Marines who died. As a matter of policy, the military typically waits 24 hours after notifying next of kin of a death before publicly releasing a deceased service member’s name.
One of the injured was undergoing surgery at the Royal Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said around six hours after the crash.
“We acknowledge that this is a terrible incident,” Fyles said. “The Northern Territory government stands by to offer whatever assistance is required.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said only Americans were injured in the crash when it happened during Exercise Predators Run, which involves the militaries of the United States, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor.
Around 150 U.S. Marines are currently based in Darwin, Australia, and up to 2,500 rotate through the city every year. They’re part of a realignment of forces in the Asia-Pacific that’s broadly meant to face an increasingly assertive China.
The 12-day exercise is scheduled to end Sept. 7. It involves troops on land, in the sea and in the air.
This was the second deadly Marine aircraft crash in less than one week. Maj. Andrew “Simple Jack” Mettler died on Thursday after his F/A-18D Hornet jet crashed near Miramar, California.
The MV-22 Osprey, a tiltrotor aircraft that can take off and land vertically but fly forward like an airplane, has been at the center of other tragedies in recent years.
In March 2022, an Osprey crash in Norway killed four Marines. The Marine Corps would later attribute the mishap to pilot error.
That “hard clutch engagement” issue led the V-22 joint program office in February to ground an undisclosed number of Ospreys across the military services. The office claimed in July it had reduced the risk of a hard clutch engagement by 99%.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.