Five United States marines have been declared missing after a marine refuelling plane and a fighter jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Japan’s southwestern coast after a midair collision on Thursday morning.

The US Marine Corps said that the 2.00 am crash involved an F/A-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 refuelling aircraft during regular training after the planes took off from their base in Iwakuni, located near Hiroshima.

The two aircraft were carrying seven crew members in total, two in the F/A-18 and five others in the KC-130 when they collided and crashed into the sea south of the Muroto Cape on Shikoku Island in southwestern Japan.

Confirming the incident, the Japanese Defence Minister, Takeshi Iwaya said one marine had been rescued while search for the others was still ongoing.

The crash, whose cause is yet to be ascertained is the latest in recent series of accidents involving the US military deployed to and near Japan.

In November, a US Navy F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan crashed into the sea southwest of Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, although its two pilots were rescued safely.

In October, an MH-60 Seahawk also belonging to USS Ronald Reagan crashed off the Philippine Sea shortly after takeoff, causing non-fatal injuries to a dozen sailors.