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One Dead, Eight Missing After Marine Training Accident Off Coast Of Southern California

By  Eric Quintanar
Amphibious assault vehicle.
Ian Hitchcock / Stringer via Getty Images

One marine has died and eight other military personnel remain missing after a “mishap” involving an amphibious assault vehicle, or AAV, ocurred during a training exercise off the coast of Southern California, officials said Friday.

According to 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, the service members on board the AAV were assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and based out of Camp Pendleton, about fifty miles north of San Diego. Two others were injured in the accident, and sixteen people were on board in total, according to The Los Angeles Times.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. I ask that you keep our Marines, Sailors, and their families in your prayers as we continue our search,” Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th MEU Commanding Officer, said in a statement Friday morning.

The L.A. Times reports that the training accident, described as an “AAV mishap,” occurred on Thursday evening, and three injured service members were taken to hospitals in response. One of those service members died at the hospital, and another two have been listed in critical condition, an official said Friday during a press conference.

“Five other service members were rescued,” reports the LA Times, and the Marine Expeditionary Force has since launched a joint rescue effort to search for the eight service members who remain missing.

Earlier this month, the Navy experienced a tragedy in Southern California when a large fire broke out on the USS Bonhomme Richard, which was under maintenance at the time and docked in San Diego.

The incident injured 17 sailors on the first day of the fire, and dozens of firefighters and firetrucks were subsequently called on to extinguish the blaze aboard the vessel. According to Fox News, the fire was put out after four days, and “forty sailors and nearly two dozen civilians” were “treated for minor injuries, heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation” by the time the fire was finally extinguished.

Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, told reporters in a press conference that while the damage was “extensive,” he remained “100% confident that our defense industry can put this ship back to sea.” However, Gilday also emphasized that the Defense Department had not yet decided whether to make that sort of investment in the ship, which he noted was over two decades old.

“I’m not going to make any predictions until we take a look at all the facts,” he said.

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