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Authorities search for missing US helicopter carrying five Marines
7 February 2024, 17:04
Waves of heavy downpours hit the area throughout the night from a historic storm that has drenched California this week.
A search is under way for a Marine Corps helicopter carrying five troops from Nevada to California that was reported overdue as a devastating storm hit the state.
The Marines were flying a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from Creech Air Force Base, north west of Las Vegas, where they had been doing unit-level training and were returning home to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, defence officials said.
Waves of heavy downpours hit the area throughout the night and snow was forecast for San Diego County mountains.
The five US Marines were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Miramar, the Marine Corps said in a statement.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department was notified at 1am that the craft was overdue for arrival at Miramar and was last seen in the area of Pine Valley, a mountainous region near the Cleveland National Forest about 35 miles east of San Diego.
The military was coordinating search and rescue efforts with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the Civil Air Patrol, the Marine Corps said.
The National Weather Service in San Diego forecast 15 to 25cm of snow in the mountains above 1,524m and gusty winds late on Wednesday.
About 30m long, the CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the military.
It can move troops and equipment over rugged terrain in bad weather, including at night, according to the Marine Corps website. It is also nicknamed the “hurricane maker” because of the amount of downwash generated from its three engines.
Two CH-53E helicopters were used in the capital of Mogadishu, Somalia, in January 1990 to rescue American and foreign allies from the US embassy.