US officials say they have suspended a search and rescue operation for three marines missing after their aircraft crashed off the Australian coast.
Saturday’s incident involved an MV-22 Osprey belonging to the US Marines based in Okinawa, Japan.
The third Marine Expeditionary Force said they had shifted their operations to recovery efforts, which could last several months.
Families of the three marines have been notified. Teams rescued 23 people.
The circumstances of the incident off the east coast of Australia are still under investigation, a statement said.
“As the sea state permits, recovery efforts will be conducted to further search, assess and survey the area, in coordination and with assistance from the Australian Defence Force,” it added.
The MV-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft similar to a conventional plane but has helicopter-like rotor blades which allow it to take off vertically, without a runway.
There were 26 people on board including the crew.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper quoted military sources as saying the aircraft had been trying to land on the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.
US military forces have been operating in the area as part of a joint training exercise called Talisman Sabre. It involved some 30,000 personnel from both countries. (Courtesy BBC)