U.S. Coast Guard recovers life rafts aboard crashed military helicopters

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Jan. 19, 2016 at 8:04 AM
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HONOLULU, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. Coast Guard recovered the four life rafts that were aboard the two military helicopters that collided last week as efforts continue to find the 12 missing Marines.

The Coast Guard and several agencies including the Marine Expeditionary Force, Honolulu Fire Department and the Hawaii Army National Guard have searched more than 21,000 square nautical miles in more than 89 operations.

The recovered life rafts were confirmed to be the ones aboard the lost helicopters.

"Anything located in this search can assist search and rescue planners with their analysis of factors and conditions, allowing them to narrow down the search area and maximize the odds of locating the missing Marines," the Coast Guard said in a statement.

The Coast Guard is searching for 12 Marines who were aboard two CH-53 helicopters when the aircrafts collided at about 3 a.m. on Thursday near the Hawaiian island of Oahu's north shore. The helicopters were from the Kaneohe Bay U.S. Marine Corps Air Station with six people aboard each.

Officials fear the Marines may be dead.

"Our focus is to locate these Marines and know with absolute certainty we've thoroughly canvassed every location we might find them," Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Scott Carr said in a statement.

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