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8 Recovered After Plane Carrying 11 Crashes In Philippine Sea, Navy Says

Two U.S. F/A-18, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force's F-15 fly over the USS Ronald Reagan ahead of a joint exercise at an undisclosed location earlier this month.

Updated at 6:35 a.m. ET

The Navy says eight people have been recovered and are "in good condition" after a propeller-driven C-2 Greyhound carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed in the Philippine Sea southeast of Okinawa, Japan.

"Search and rescue" for the remaining three people is still underway, the Navy says.

In a statement, the U.S. 7th Fleet said the C-2, a twin-engine airplane used to ferry personnel to and from aircraft carriers, went down about 2:45 p.m. Japan time (12:45 a.m. ET) while it was en route to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76), which is operating in the region.

By 3:23 p.m. local time, eight people were recovered. "All personnel were transferred to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for medical evaluation and are in good condition at this time," the Navy says.

The incident will be investigated. The cause of the crash is not yet known, an earlier statement said.

The names of crew and passengers were being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera first told local reporters that the eight people had been recovered.

Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force is assisting with search and rescue efforts for the three missing personnel.

The Associated Press adds background:

"The 7th Fleet has had two fatal accidents in Asian waters this year, leaving 17 sailors dead and prompting the removal of eight top Navy officers from their posts, including the 7th Fleet commander.

"The USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided near Singapore in August, leaving 10 U.S. sailors dead. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided off Japan."

The Navy provides more details on the aircraft that crashed:

"The aircraft was conducting a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). ...

"The C2-A is assigned to the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Three Zero, Detachment Five, forward deployed in NAF Atsugi, Japan. Detachment Five's mission includes the transport of high-priority cargo, mail, duty passengers and Distinguished Visitors between USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and shore bases throughout the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia theaters."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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