Four US Marines died in a plane crash while taking part in a NATO training exercise unrelated to the conflict in Ukraine, the Norwegian prime minister said on Saturday.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere tweeted that the plane crash happened overnight as the troops took part in the NATO cold response exercise.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the soldiers’ families, loved ones and comrades in their unit,” Gahr Stoere said in the statement.
The Norwegian armed forces said in a statement that the plane had a crew of four who were confirmed dead on Saturday morning. The cause was under investigation, but Norwegian police reported bad weather in the area.
TRAINING DEATHS:2 Marines killed, 17 injured in military vehicle rollover accident in North Carolina
II Marine Expeditionary Force saturday tweeted that four Marines are now listed in ‘unknown duty location’ following an aviation ‘incident’ during Exercise Cold Response near Bodo, Norway. The incident involved a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey aircraft.
“Search and rescue operations have been handed over to Norwegian local police authorities with the support of military units of the Norwegian Armed Forces,” reads a press release from II MEF shared on Twitter. “As a matter of principle, the identity of service members is only released 24 hours after all next of kin notifications have ended.”
US Marines too confirmed on Twitter on Friday evening that an “incident” occurred involving an MV-22B Osprey aircraft during training in Norway.
“The cause of the incident is being investigated and additional details will be provided as they become available,” the Marines tweet read.
The Cold Response exercise will continue despite the accident, the Norwegian Armed Forces said. NATO exercises in Norway are annual and unrelated to the war in Ukraine. This year, the exercises started on March 14 and ended on April 1. Around 30,000 soldiers, 220 aircraft and 50 ships from 27 countries are taking part. Finland and Sweden, both non-NATO members, are also participating.
USA TODAY has contacted the II Marine Expeditionary Force and the Pentagon for comment.
This is the second training exercise where Marines have died since the start of the year. Two Marines were killed and 17 others injured on January 19 after a 7-ton military vehicle overturned in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Contributor: Associated Press