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Search ends for seven Marines, one sailor presumed dead near California

Search ends for seven Marines, one sailor presumed dead near California
The Marine Corps on Sunday announced it had ended the search for seven Marines and one Sailor who are feared dead after an amphibious assault vehicle sank off the coast of Southern California. File Photo by Pfc. Rhita Daniel/U.S. Marine Corps/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Seven missing Marines and one Navy sailor are presumed dead after an amphibious assault vehicle they were riding in sank, the U.S. Marine Corps announced Sunday.

The Marine Corps said the search to find the eight service members has concluded following a 40-hour search after the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group determined there was "little probability of a successful rescue given the circumstances of the incident" involving a sunken amphibious assault vehicle.

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"It is with a heavy heart, that I decided to conclude the search and rescue effort," Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th MEU Commanding Officer said. "The steadfast dedication of the Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen to the persistent rescue effort was tremendous."

The incident occurred on July 30, when 15 Marines and one Sailor were participating in a routine training exercise off the coast of San Clemente Island, Calif. when the amphibious assault vehicle they were in began to take on water and ultimately sank.

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Eight Marines were rescued, one of them died and two others are in critical condition at a local hospital.

Search efforts will now be redirected toward finding and recovering the Marines and Sailor that remain missing, the Marine Corps said.

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The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation and names of the service members will be released 24 hours after their next of kin are notified.

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"Our thoughts and prayers have been and will continue to be with our Marines' and Sailor's families during this difficult time," Bronzi said. "As we turn to recovery operations we will continue our exhaustive search for our missing Marines and Sailor."

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