Their bodies were flown to Darwin and will now be making the journey back home to the US. Twenty people were initially injured in the crash, which took place on Sunday (AEST) at 9.30am, but most have been discharged. No Australians were involved.
US President Joe Biden expressed sorrow for the loss on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Asked if the president was concerned more broadly about the safety of military drills, his spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre later replied: “When it comes to our military force, he’s always going to be concerned. He’s always going to want to make sure that they have everything that they need and, of course, that they’re safe.”
Sunday’s crash was the latest in a line of tragedies involving the Osprey aircraft; last June, five US Marines died after an MV-22 Osprey crashed during a training mission Wednesday near Glamis, California.
In April 2010, a US Air Force Osprey crashed in southern Afghanistan, killing three US service members and one civilian employee.
And in August 2017, another three marines were killed in Australia, when an MV-22B Osprey crashed in the Coral Sea.
Emergency services are expected to be at the site for more than a week as they work through what led to the tragedy.
Radio audio has also been released, showing an emergency call that came through from air traffic control at the time of the incident, with an American voice asking for help.
“We are just declaring an emergency, we have Dumptruck 11 flight single MV-22 in the vicinity of Melville Island,” the voice said.
“Search and rescue is requesting … if there is fire?” an Australian voice later asks.
“Affirm, there is a significant fire in the vicinity of the crash site. Looks like it is not spreading, but there is a significant fire,” responds the American voice.
Family, friends and colleagues have paid tribute to the victims, and a candlelight vigil attended by about 50 marines was held at sunset in Darwin last night.
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