Seven US Marines and one sailor are presumed dead after they went missing in a training “accident” off the southern California coast on Thursday, officials said in a press release Saturday night.
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group have concluded their search and rescue operation after a 40-hour long search for service members, the statement said.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to conclude the search and rescue effort,” Colonel Christopher Bronzi, 15th EMU commander, said in a statement. “The unwavering dedication of the Marines, Sailors and Coast Guard to the enduring rescue effort has been tremendous.
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Authorities determined that there was little chance of a successful rescue given the circumstances of the incident, the statement said.
In addition to the eight military personnel believed to have died, a ninth US Marine died in the training accident and another was in critical condition.
The Marines and the sailor who died were not immediately identified.
Fifteen Marines and one sailor were inside an amphibious assault vehicle near San Clemente Island on Thursday when they reported taking on water around 5:45 p.m., officials said.
General David Berger told a press conference on Friday afternoon: “The vehicle sank after taking on water. “
Two amphibious assault vehicles and a security boat were nearby. Some of the rescued Marines were found floating in the water after successfully deploying flotation devices, all of which aboard were equipped, Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman said.
The 26-ton vehicle appeared to sink in “several hundred feet of water” more than 1,000 meters from the northwest corner of the island, officials said.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. I ask you to keep our Marines, Sailors and their families in your prayers as we continue our research, ”Bronzi said on Twitter.
The incident is still under investigation, officials said.