Two CH-53 Marine Corps Helicopters COLLIDE Near Hawaii, Crew Missing

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Two CH-53 Marine Corps Sea Stallion helicopters are believed to have collided off the coast of Oahu in Hawaii, leading to a frantic U.S. Coast Guard search for survivors.

The collision reportedly occurred Friday morning, CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB-TV reports.

Marine Corps officials say a search is underway for 12 of the passengers on board the two helicopters, with the help of the Coast Guard, which sent over a HC-130 search plane. The Honolulu Fire Department and U.S. Navy have also joined the search.

A local resident first reported the incident at 11:40 p.m. after seeing a fireball light up the sky.

Up to this point, search teams have managed to find debris near the expected site collision. Part of that debris includes an empty life raft.

“Crews discovered a life raft with no one on board and visible flames on the water,” U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Mooers told KGMB-TV.

At first, the debris was only half a mile from the coast, but given drift, the debris has moved eight miles offshore. Weather is making the search even more difficult. Waves as high as 30-40 feet are expected Friday.

The Sea Stallion transport helicopters belong to the Marine Corps Air Station at Kaneohe Bay. It is unknown what they were doing before the collision, or why the collision occurred.

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