California [US], February 7 (ANI): Rescue teams are actively searching for a military helicopter with five Marines onboard after it was “reported overdue” en route from a base near Las Vegas to one in San Diego, CNN reported, citing a US Marine Corps spokesperson.
“The Marines were flying a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from Creech Air Force Base to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Feb. 6, 2024, when the aircraft was reported overdue,” Capt Stephanie Leguizamon with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing said on Wednesday.
He also said, “The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is coordinating search and rescue efforts with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the Civil Air Patrol.”
The missing Marines are from Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, according to Leguizamon. The CH-53E, a heavy-lift helicopter designed for troop and equipment transport with a capacity of up to 16 tons, is integral to the US Navy, as reported by CNN.
Weather conditions may have played a role, with gusty winds reaching up to 20 mph near Pine Valley, California, close to the last known location. Radar data indicates a significant band of precipitation, including rain at lower elevations and snow at higher elevations, during the presumed timeframe of the aircraft’s journey.
California firefighters, including three fire engines and an ambulance from Cal Fire San Diego, have joined the search.
Mike Cornette, a spokesperson for Cal Fire San Diego, noted the challenges faced by responders, stating, “Now that we’re getting daylight, we’re going to reengage.”
Winter conditions, including heavy snow, initially hampered efforts near Lake Marina and a trailhead in the Cleveland National Forest.
The urgency of the situation is underscored by the collaborative efforts of multiple agencies involved in the search and rescue mission. The Marine Corps, along with local authorities and firefighters, remains dedicated to locating the missing helicopter and its crew, CNN reported. (ANI)