TOKYO – A US military Osprey plane with eight people on board crashed into the sea near a southern Japanese island on Wednesday morning, officials said.
A regional coast guard spokesman confirmed to NBC News that the plane went down in the sea near the island of Yakushima, about 45 miles south of Kagoshima on the southern main island of Kyushu.
The spokesman said the plane belonged to the US military but could not say where it came from. No immediate details about the plane’s condition or its occupants were available.
The public called 118, Japan’s version of 911, at 2:47 p.m. (12:47 a.m. ET), the Coast Guard said in a statement. The Coast Guard said it immediately dispatched patrol vessels and aircraft to the scene.
Around 4 p.m. (2 a.m. ET) rescue crews, including boats from the Coast Guard and a local rescue center, found “wreck-like debris” and an overturned lifeboat, the Coast Guard said.
NBC News reached out to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa Island, the largest U.S. Air Force base in the region, but did not immediately receive a comment.
The MV-22 Osprey is a hybrid aircraft famous for its unique “tiltrotor” flight system, which allows it to take off and land like a helicopter but fly like an airplane.
There have been many fatal accidents involving aircraft in recent years.
An Osprey carrying 23 US Marines crashed during a routine training exercise in Australia in August, killing three, including the pilot.
Five U.S. Marines aboard an MV-22 died when it crashed in San Diego in August 2022 during a training mission, following the death of four U.S. Marines aboard an MV-22 in Norway five months earlier.
The Department of Defense backed the use of the aircraft after a 2015 crash at a military base in Hawaii killed one Marine and injured 21 others.
Developed by Boeing and Bell Helicopters, the MV-22 has two rotors on each wing, allowing it to take off and land like a helicopter called VTOL – vertical takeoff and landing. The rotors can rotate 90 degrees forward once in flight, allowing them to operate like a conventional rotor-powered aircraft.
This is a developing story, check back here for updates.
Arata Yamamoto reported from Tokyo and Patrick Smith from London.