Written by Staff Writer
16 Jan, 2016 | 9:27 am
The U.S. Coast Guard said on Friday January 15 it learned of the collision involving two Marine helicopters after civilians reported seeing a fireball in the sky over Hawaii.
“We did not receive a mayday call. The Coast Guard was notified by a civilian on the beach who had seen the aircraft flying and then saw them disappear,” Lieutenant Scott Carr, Coast Guard spokesman told reporters.
“Subsequently we got a second notification within just a few minutes of a report of a flare,” Carr added.
Carr said fierce winds are complicating the search for possible survivors after CH-53E helicopters, belonging to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing from the Marine Corps Air Station at Kaneohe Bay, were reported to have collided.
Dozens of aircraft and vessels have been dispatched to search an area near the island of Oahu. Debris believed to be from the helicopters was spotted in the water as far as seven miles (11km) off shore, Lieutenant Scott Carr, Coast Guard spokesman said.
He attributed the large search area to twenty-knot winds (23 mile-per-hour).
“That is moving that debris all over the place. It makes finding things incredibly difficult,” Carr said. A Coast Guard cutter was on scene and another one was en route and expected to arrive shortly. Two U.S. Navy warships have also been sent to join the search, and local police and fire departments are assisting with helicopters.
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