AUSTRALIA: A military chopper crashed off the Australian state of Queensland, leaving four people missing.
The incident happened on Friday night off the coast of Lindeman Island during an Australian and US military training exercise.
A search and rescue operation, according to defence minister Richard Marles, was started right away.
Marles stated at a press conference on Saturday morning that “the four air crew are yet to be found.”
At around 22:30 local time (12:30 GMT), he said, the MRH-90 Taipan helicopter crashed in the Whitsundays, close to the island.
We anxiously hope for better news throughout the day, he continued, adding that “our hopes and thoughts are very much with the aircrew and their families.”
“These are early days, and there will be much more information to be provided about this incident,” he stated.
Angus Campbell, the Chief of the Defence Force, described it as “a terrible moment” in his remarks at the same press conference.
He said, “Our focus at the moment is on finding our people and supporting their families and the rest of our team.”
He stated that he appreciated the support given by civil agencies, the police, the public, and “our US allies” in aiding the ongoing search and rescue operation so far.
The MRH-90 Taipan helicopter crashed during Exercise Talisman Sabre, the major joint military training exercise between Australia and the United States.
Defence officials declared a break in the Talisman Sabre exercise, which also involves troops from South Korea, Japan, France, and Germany.
Exercise Talisman Sabre exercise director Brigadier Damian Hill said, “I’ve initiated a pause X across Australia for all participants of Talisman Sabre to enable them all, regardless of their nation, to reach out and let their families know what is going on.”
The exercise, which has been underway for almost two weeks, is assessing extensive logistics, land combat, amphibious landings, and air operations.
It was anticipated to be finished by August 4.
Presently, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin are in Queensland attending the annual Australia-US ministerial (AUSMIN) dialogue.