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Updated: 3 U.S. Marines die in Australian plane crash

U.S. Marine helicopter

U.S. Marine helicopter

Three U.S. Marines died as an aircraft carrying troops crashed on a north Australian island Sunday, during a training exercise.

Twenty other marines were injured, some critically. Earlier report did not indicate any fatality.

Three marines have now been confirmed dead on Melville Island and five of the 23 on board were flown in serious condition 80 kilometers (50 miles) to the mainland city of Darwin for hospital treatment.

According to the Australian Defence Force, the crash happened during a joint military drill of more than 2,500 troops from the militaries of the United States, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor.

Roughly 500 soldiers were American.

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The accident occurred around 11:00 a.m. local time when an Osprey Helicopter carrying approximately 20 U.S. Marines crashed near Melville Island, officials said.

“Initial reports suggest the incident involves United States defense personnel and that the Australian Defence Force members were not involved,” the ADF said in a statement.

“Recovery efforts are ongoing,” the statement said, adding the cause of the crash was under investigation.

A U.S. military official reported to Australian air traffic controllers a “significant fire in the vicinity of the crash site,” according to an audio recording of the conversation broadcast by Nine News television.

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