Remains of five crew found after US Osprey aircraft crashes off Japan

Credit: REUTERS/KYODO

Recasts with Pentagon remarks

WASHINGTON/TOKYO, Dec 4 (Reuters) - U.S. and Japanese dive teams found the remains of five more crew members from a V-22 Osprey aircraft that crashed off western Japan last week, the Pentagon said on Monday.

Eight crew were aboard the tilt-rotor aircraft when it crashed during a routine training mission on Wednesday off the shores of Yakushima Island, about 1,040 km (650 miles) southwest of the capital Tokyo.

Prior to this week's discovery, one body had been recovered. Two crew members remain unaccounted for.

"There is an ongoing combined effort to recover the remaining crew members from the wreckage," Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said.

"As efforts persist for the location and recovery of the entire crew, the privacy of the families and loved ones impacted by this tragic incident remains a great concern."

Following the crash, the U.S. military unit that the V-22 Osprey aircraft belonged to suspended flight operations. But the U.S. military has said other aircraft will continue to fly after undergoing safety checks.

Tokyo has voiced concern about continued Osprey flights. The deployment of the aircraft in Japan has been controversial, with critics of the U.S. military presence in the southwest islands saying it is prone to accidents.

Pacifist Japan hosts the biggest overseas concentration of U.S. military power, with the country home to the only forward-deployed American carrier strike group, its Asian airlift hub, fighter squadrons and a U.S. Marine Corps expeditionary force.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington and Satoshi Sugiyama in Tokyop; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Alison Williams)

((Satoshi.Sugiyama@thomsonreuters.com;))

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