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Survivors Unlikely in Midair Crash, Pentagon Official Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2009 – Search efforts continue after two military aircraft collided off the California coast yesterday, but a Defense Department official said it’s unlikely there are survivors among the nine people aboard.

The crash occurred about 7 p.m. local time last night some 15 miles east of San Clemente Island, Calif., when a Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft with seven people aboard collided with an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter containing two pilots, according to the U.S. Coast Guard Web site.

“The search is still on, but it’s likely taken the lives of nine individuals,” said Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman, calling the collision a “tragic event.”

The Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps are involved in the search, with Coast Guard assets including two MH-60J Jayhawk helicopters, the Cutters Edisto and Petrel, from San Diego, and the Cutter Blackfin from Santa Barbara, Calif.

The Coast Guard aircraft from Air Station Sacramento was engaged in a search and rescue mission and the Marine helicopter from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing stationed at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton was conducting a routine training mission at the time of the crash. The Navy reported to the Coast Guard that they observed what appeared to be a midair collision, according to the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard and Navy crews searched through the night amid conditions offering unlimited visibility and “ideal search conditions,” the Coast Guard reported.

Efforts are focused on the search for survivors, and the Coast Guard is investigating to determine the cause of the accident.

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