One dead, five missing after two US military planes crash off Japan

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A Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel and US Navy airplane conduct a search and rescue operation at the area where two US Marine Corps aircraft collided, off the coast of Kochi prefecture, Japan. (Reuters)
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In this July 14, 2015 photograph courtesy of the US Air Force, a C-130 Hercules takes off during a training exercise at Yokota Air Base, Japan. (AFP file photo)
Updated 06 December 2018
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One dead, five missing after two US military planes crash off Japan

  • A statement from the US Marines in Japan said the two planes involved in the accident were an F-18 fighter and a C-130 tanker
  • Two of the seven crew, one deceased, one alive, have been found

TOKYO: One US Marine died and five were missing Thursday after two American military aircraft crashed during a refueling operation off the coast of Japan, officials said.
Japanese and US military officials earlier said two of the seven crew of the planes had been found.
“One is in fair condition and the other has been declared deceased by competent medical personnel,” the US Marine Corps said late Thursday.
“US military and the Japanese Self-Defense planes and vessels are searching for those still missing... I hope all the members will be rescued safely as soon as possible,” Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said.
The search would continue through the night, Kyodo news agency reported.
The Marines were conducting “regularly scheduled training” when the crash occurred around 2:00 am local time, the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force said in a statement.
The F/A-18 fighter jet with two crew onboard and a KC-130 refueling tanker with five crew crashed into the sea around 100 kilometers (55 nautical miles) off the cape of Muroto in southwestern Japan, Iwaya said.
The crew member rescued had been in the fighter jet, the minister confirmed.
Japan’s SDF had deployed nine aircraft and three vessels for the search, he said.
“We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s efforts as they immediately responded in the search and rescue operation,” the Marines said.
A spokesman for the Japanese coast guard said six vessels and an aircraft had been dispatched separately to assist in the rescue efforts.
There are few details about the circumstances of what the Marines described as a “mishap” and an investigation is underway.
Public broadcaster NHK sent a helicopter to try to find the crash site but was unable to locate it due to heavy fog and rain.
During a normal KC-130 refueling operation, the tanker aircraft trails a hose from the back of the plane with a so-called “drogue,” shaped a bit like a windsock, at the end.
The fighter jet then inserts a probe inside the drogue to receive fuel, which it can do at a rate of up to 300 gallons per minute, according to globalsecurity.org.
The US military has about 50,000 troops stationed in Japan and accidents are not uncommon.
In November, a US navy fighter jet crashed into the sea off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa and its two crew members were rescued alive.
And in November 2017, a C-2A “Greyhound” aircraft with 11 people on board went down in the Philippine Sea — eight were rescued and the search was called off for the remaining three after a two-day search.
The US military has also experienced difficulties with its Osprey helicopters, with several emergency landings, a deadly crash and a piece of chopper falling on the grounds of a Japanese school.
Those incidents have stoked tensions between close military allies Washington and Tokyo and led to protests against the deployment of Ospreys by residents living near US bases.
Iwaya said the incident was “regrettable but at this point we are doing our utmost to rescue those still missing.”
“Later, if we get to know the details of the accident, we will take appropriate measures,” added Iwaya.
He said that there was no information that any passing vessels were affected by the crash.
Yoshihiko Fukuda, mayor of Iwakuni that hosts the US base where the two aircraft were based, told the city assembly he had asked the military to halt operations until the cause of the accident became clear.
“I will urge the government and the US military to take thorough measures in finding out the cause of the accident and preventing a repeat,” said Fukuda.
The US ambassador to Japan, Bill Hagerty, said he was sending “heartfelt thoughts and prayers to families and colleagues of those still missing” and also praised the Japanese response.


Amnesty faults electric vehicle batteries as carbon intensive, linked to child labor

Updated 9 min 54 sec ago
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Amnesty faults electric vehicle batteries as carbon intensive, linked to child labor

  • Global automakers are investing billions of dollars to ramp up electric vehicle production
  • Many of the batteries are produced using polluting fossil fuels and unethically sourced minerals -— AI

LONDON: Amnesty International attacked the electric vehicle (EV) industry on Thursday for selling itself as environmentally friendly while producing many of its batteries using polluting fossil fuels and unethically sourced minerals.
Manufacturing batteries can be carbon intensive, while the extraction of minerals used in them has been linked to human rights violations such as child labor, a statement from the rights group said.
“Electric vehicles are key to shifting the motor industry away from fossil fuels, but they are currently not as ethical as some retailers would like us to believe,” it said, announcing the initiative at the Nordic Electric Vehicle Summit in Oslo.
Production of lithium-ion batteries for EVs is power intensive, and factories are concentrated in China, South Korea and Japan, where power generation is largely dependent on coal or other fossil fuels, Amnesty said.
Global automakers are investing billions of dollars to ramp up electric vehicle production. German giant Volkswagen for one plans to raise annual production of electric cars to 3 million by 2025, from 40,000 in 2018.
Amnesty demanded the EV industry come up with an ethical and clean battery within five years and in the meantime that carbon footprints be disclosed and supply chains of key minerals identified.
Last month, a letter seen by Reuters showed that 14 non-governmental organizations including Amnesty and Global Witness had opposed plans by the London Metal Exchange to ban cobalt tainted by human rights abuses.
Instead of banning the cobalt brands, the LME should work with firms that produce them to ensure responsible sourcing, they said.