Search-and-rescue crews continue to look for five missing crewmen Wednesday afternoon after a downed U.S. Army helicopter was reported off the coast of Hawaii the night before, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army said.
The search was reported late Tuesday night local time, about two miles west of Kaena Point, the westernmost tip of land on the island of Oahu. It will continue into Wednesday evening, the spokesperson said.
This is still a search and rescue mission,” the spokesperson said. “We are here to bring our soldiers home.”
Lt. Colonel Curtis Kellogg, a spokesman for the 25th Infantry Division, said two helicopters were taking part in a routine nighttime training mission about five miles off the shore of Kaena Point Tuesday night and, at 9:30 p.m., the second helicopter lost visual and radio contact with the first one.
The helicopters had been dispatched at about 9 p.m., the Army spokesperson said.
The helicopter was reported down and a search-and-rescue mission was launched immediately, Kellogg said.
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A debris field was spotted near Kaena Point at 11:28 p.m. local time Tuesday, the Coast Guard said.
Investigators have recovered pieces of debris, an Army spokesperson said in a press conference Wednesday. Since it is possible that debris can wash ashore, officials are asking beachgoers and boaters who come across debris to avoid handling it and alert local authorities.
All of the families of the soldiers on board have been notified, and officials continue to update them on the search-and-rescue efforts, the spokesperson said.
“I’d like to express that our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the soldiers in this difficult time,” the spokesperson said.
The U.S. Coast Guard, Honolulu Ocean Safety and Honolulu Fire Department are assisting in the search efforts by both helicopters and boats, the spokesperson said.
“Everyone here is committed to this endeavor that you see before you,” he said. “As we do this work, the soldiers and the families are at the forefront of our minds.” [/restrict]