TOKYO (AP) — A crew member who was recovered from the ocean after a U.S. military Osprey aircraft carrying six people crashed Wednesday off southern Japan has been pronounced dead, coast guard officials said.
The cause of the crash and the status of the five others on the aircraft were not immediately known, coast guard spokesperson Kazuo Ogawa said. Initial reports said the aircraft was carrying eight people, but the U.S. military later revised the number to six, he said.
The coast guard received an emergency call from a fishing boat near the crash site off Yakushima, an island south of Kagoshima on the southern main island of Kyushu, he said.
Coast guard aircraft and patrol boats found one person, who was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, and gray-colored debris believed to be from the aircraft, Ogawa said. They were found about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) off the eastern coast of Yakushima. An empty inflatable life raft was also found in the area.
“The government will confirm information about the damage and place the highest priority on saving lives," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
The Osprey is a hybrid aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but during flight can rotate its propellers forward and cruise much faster like an airplane. Versions of the aircraft are flown by the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.