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Seven US Destroyer Crew Missing Off Japan

Seven US Destroyer Crew Missing Off JapanSeven US Destroyer Crew Missing Off Japan

Seven US sailors were missing and a skipper injured after their Navy destroyer collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan early Saturday, with the badly damaged US vessel partially flooded.

Aerial television footage showed one sailor lying on a stretcher and a rescuer being pulled up to a helicopter that was hovering above the USS Fitzgerald, its right side partially crushed, AFP reported.

Three sailors were injured in the pre-dawn collision, including the guided missile destroyer’s commanding officer Bryce Benson.

“Two sailors, in addition to the commanding officer, have been medically evacuated from USS Fitzgerald to US Naval Hospital Yokosuka for lacerations and bruises,” the navy said.

“There are seven sailors unaccounted for; the ship and the Japanese Coast Guard continue to search for them.”

The accident between the Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal happened around 2:30 a.m. (1730 GMT Friday) off the coast off the Izu Peninsula southwest of Tokyo, the US Navy and Japan’s coastguard said.

The area is a busy shipping channel near major container ports in Yokohoma and Tokyo.

“The volume of ships is heavy in this area and there have been accidents before,” coastguard official Yutaka Saito told Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.

It was not immediately clear what caused the collision, but NHK said the massive 222-meter (730 foot) container ship made a sharp turn around the time of the accident.

Japan’s coastguard, which is probing the incident, has sent five vessels, two planes and a team of specially trained rescue personnel to help in the search for the missing crew, a spokesman said.

The USS Dewey and two Navy tugboats were helping out in the search and rescue, the US military said, while Japan’s Self-Defense Forces also joined the operation, sending three ships and several aircraft.

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