Four Australian defense personnel are missing in the water off the east coast of Australia after they were forced to ditch their Taipan helicopter in the sea during joint wargame drills with the United States late Friday.
Speaking at a press conference in Brisbane on Saturday, Defense Minister Richard Marles said the search was ongoing for the four crew of the Australian Army helicopter.
“We meet this day with a heavy heart. Last night, just after 10.30, an Australian Army helicopter, an MRH-90, ditched in waters close to Hamilton Island. The helicopter was engaging in a two-helicopter mission,” Marles said.
“There were four air crew aboard. Because there was another helicopter present, a search and rescue was able to commence immediately. As we speak to you now, the four-air crew are yet to be found. The search and rescue continues,” he added.
The aircraft “impacted waters” near the Lindeman Island, off the coast of the state of Queensland. A search operation involving both search and rescue aircraft and sea vessels is under way, according to the Australian Defense Ministry.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said their “thoughts are with loved ones of the missing” in a joint statement with his Marles, also the deputy prime minister.