Five Marines Confirmed Dead in Helicopter Crash Near San Diego

A U.S. Marine carries rescue gear at a command center Wednesday, in Kitchen Creek, Calif. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

(Reuters) – Five U.S. Marines were confirmed dead after their helicopter crashed in a remote area outside of San Diego while on a training flight during a fierce winter storm, the U.S. Marines Corps said on Thursday.

Their CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter went down in Pine Valley, a hilly remote area east of the city, on Tuesday night as it was headed to the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California, the Marine Corps said in a statement.

The remains of the crew members were found during a search and rescue effort carried out by the Marines and local authorities.

“It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I share the loss of five outstanding Marines,” Major General Michael Borgschulte said in the statement.

In a statement, President Joe Biden offered his condolences to the families of the five Marines, saying he and first lady Jill Biden were “heartbroken at the loss.”

The Corps said it was waiting until after the families of the crew members were notified before releasing their names.

The helicopter departed from the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada about 40 miles (60 km) northwest of Las Vegas on Tuesday night and flew into rainy and snowy weather as it headed west. About eight hours later it was reported overdue.

It was unclear what caused the crash. An investigation was underway, the Marines said.

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