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Remains of US Marines killed in Australian chopper crash recovered

Canberra, Aug 30 (IANS) Remains of the three US Marines killed in a helicopter crash on an island off Australia’s north coast have been recovered, the US Marine Rotational Force Darwin (MRF-D) said in a statement on Wednesday.

The MRF-D statement said the remains have been transported to Darwin, capital of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT), reports Xinhua news agency.

Corporal Spencer R. Collart (21), Captain Eleanor V. LeBeau (29) and Major Tobin J. Lewis (37) were among 23 Marines on board the MV-22B Osprey when it crashed on Melville Island around 9.30 a.m. on Sunday during a training exercise.

Collart was the Osprey crew chief, LeBeau a pilot and Lewis the executive officer of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 363 (VMM-363), their unit said on Monday.

The MRF-D said that, as of Tuesday night, two of the Marines who were injured in the crash remained in a stable condition in the Royal Darwin Hospital, but a third was in a critical condition and has been moved more than 3,000 km to Melbourne for treatment, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The cause of the incident remains under investigation,” the statement added.

The helicopter that crashed was one of two US Marine Osprey aircraft that left Darwin on Sunday morning and flew towards the Tiwi Islands, about 80 km away, according to Northern Territory Police Commissioner Michael Murphy.

The crash comes just a month following the death of four Australian army aircrew members after an MRH-90 Taipan helicopter crashed into the sea near Hamilton Island off the east coast of Australia during an exercise that was part of joint drills with the US.

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