Media reports are now claiming that 11 service members who went missing Tuesday night following an Army helicopter crash are presumed dead. The reports cite an unnamed U.S. military official at the Pentagon. The official reportedly only agreed to make the confirmation to the Press on the condition of anonymity, because he didn’t have permission to speak on the record about the tragedy.
The service members were all reportedly participating in a routine night military training exercise at Eglin Air Force Base. The missing 11 includes seven Marines and four soldiers, who went missing on Tuesday evening at about 8:30 p.m. During a search and rescue mission, debris from a possible helicopter crash was found at around 2 a.m. It’s believed that the helicopter, UH-60 Black Hawk from the Army National Guard, went down in waters off the coast of Florida.
It was one of a pair of Army helicopters participating in night exercises; the other reportedly returned to the military base without incident. What caused the helicopter to crash is unknown at this time. Due to the low visibility caused by fog at present, there is some speculation that this may have been a factor in this tragic outcome.
Base officials said that the missing Marines were North Carolina-based special operations groups and soldiers who were part of a National Guard unit based in Hammond, Louisiana. The names of the missing service members have yet to be released, as officials are waiting until after next of kin have been notified.
Efforts to recover the missing 11 have been hampered by weather. A military official said that dense fog has made search efforts difficult.
All 11 U.S. service members aboard helicopter that crashed off Florida are presumed dead, defense official says. http://t.co/PGzv5CqzK4
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 11, 2015
A spokeswoman for the Eglin Air Force Base informed Reuters that the military is still investigating the crash. She would not confirm whether or not officials have found remains. Reuters said that human remains had washed up on a Florida beach. The spokeswoman said that as of now, this is still considered a search and rescue mission.
— Reuters U.S. News (@ReutersUS) March 11, 2015
It’s worth noting that though the report that the service members are presumed is circulating among trusted media sources, no member of the military has yet to go on the record about the presumed fate of the missing fate of the 11 service members at this time. For now, military and local law enforcement officials are gathered at the possible scene of the crash, a section of military-owned beach located 50 miles east of Pensacola.
Updates to come as more information about this developing story becomes available.
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