A KC-130 aircraft. File photo

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Reuters

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One of the two aircraft involved in the incident was a KC-130 tanker (like the one shown in this archival photo).

In Japan, a major search and rescue operation for five missing US Marines continues after two aircraft collided with seven crew members and crashed into the sea.

One marine was rescued and was "in good condition" while another was declared "deceased", marine officers said in a statement.

The aircraft involved were a KC-130 and an F / A-18 in Iwakuni near Hiroshima in southwestern Japan.

US media reports that they crashed during a tank exercise in the air.

The Marine Corps has not officially confirmed this and called the incident a "mishap".

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How is the salvation going?

Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said Japanese planes and three ships are involved in the rescue operation.

The 7th US fleet supports the use of naval aircraft.

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Reuters

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US aircraft and Japanese ships search the area

A Marines statement said, "We are grateful for the efforts of the Japanese maritime self-defense force, which responded immediately to the search and rescue operation."

The Marines Corps has tweeted that the incident occurred on Thursday (Wednesday, 17:00 GMT) around 02:00 local time.

The first Marine was rescued about four hours later, according to Japanese officials, while the second was found 10 hours after the collision.

They said one of them was from the fighter plane.

There were five employees on the C-130 and two on the F-18.

According to reports from NHK World in Japan, the search continues overnight.

It quoted Katsutoshi Kawano, Chief of Japanese Self-Defense Forces, as saying that search teams discovered floating debris in the sea.

How have events evolved?

A Facebook post of the III. Marine Expeditionary Force said the incident occurred 200 miles (320 km) off the coast.

The US aircraft were launched from the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and "regularly scheduled trainings, as the disaster happened."

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AFP

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An F / A 18E Super Hornet on the USS Ronald Reagan. It is not yet known which variant was involved in the incident

According to Rupert Wingfield-Hayes of the BBC in Tokyo, refueling is a difficult and potentially dangerous operation, especially at night.

He says it's not clear what the weather conditions were like, but overnight there were widespread clouds and rain over the Japanese archipelago.

The KC-130 is an extended reach tanker version of the C-130 and is used for refueling in the air.

The McDonnell Douglas F / A-18 Hornet is a hunting and fighter jet and can carry a variety of missiles and bombs.

The US has more than 50,000 troops stationed in Japan, more than 18,000 of them in the US Marine Corps.

The US had problems with the reliability of its aircraft in Japan. In November, an F / A-18 hornet crashed south of Okinawa into the sea. The two pilots got out and were rescued.

In December last year, part of a US helicopter crashed into a school in Okinawa, which increased tensions with the local population.

In recent years, a series of accidents and crimes have led to a growing opposition on the ground against the US base.