US Navy aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers crashes into Philippine Sea

The aircraft was returning to the USS Ronald Reagan carrier

The U.S. Navy said earlier that the cause of the crash was unclear.

Three people are still missing after a U.S. Navy plane crashed in the Philippine Sea en route to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

The 7th Fleet said the Reagan was conducting search and rescue operations.

It was further added, "The names of the crew and passengers are being withheld pending next of kin notification".

It is thought at least three people are missing.

U.S. and Japanese naval ships and aircraft are searching for the missing.

US Navy aircraft carrying 11 crashes off Japan
US Navy aircraft carrying 11 people crashes into sea off Japan

U.S. military vessels have been involved in a number of accidents in recent months in East Asia.

Their C-2 "Greyhound" transport plane crashed while on its way to the carrier on Wednesday in the Philippine Sea, where the USA and Japanese navies are holding exercises. Japan time (5.45 a.m. GMT).

"The USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided near Singapore in August, leaving 10 US sailors dead".

In January USS Antietam ran aground near its base in Japan, and in May, USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel.

The admiral in charge was removed from his position after his commanders lost confidence in his ability to lead and the Navy's top admiral ordered a fleetwide review of seamanship and training in the Pacific after the McCain collision. The 7th Fleet said they were all taken to "USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for medical evaluation and are in good condition at this time".

The drills come as tensions persist between Washington and North Korea over its missile and nuclear programme.

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