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2 Marine Corps copters crash off Djibouti coast

Craft carried 12; 2 troops rescued

WASHINGTON -- Two Marine Corps transport helicopters carrying a dozen troops crashed yesterday off the coast of Djibouti, and two people were rescued in the initial search, the Pentagon said.

The status of the other 10 aboard the CH-53E choppers was not immediately known, officials said.

A search-and-rescue mission by troops from the United States, Djibouti, and France was under way, according to a statement issued by Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, a US-led military force headquartered at Camp Lemonier, a French military base in Djibouti.

The helicopters were on a nighttime training mission at the time of the crash, the cause of which had not been determined last night.

At the Pentagon, a spokesman, Lieutenant Commander Joe Carpenter, said there was no indication of hostile fire.

Members of the Djiboutian military notified US officials at about 5:30 p.m. local time that the helicopters had crashed in the Gulf of Aden not far from the Djiboutian coastal town of Ras Siyyan.

Djiboutian military members who were near the impact site were able to rescue two injured crew members, according to the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa statement. The two were transported to Camp Lemonier and were listed in stable condition.

Djibouti is between Somalia and Ethiopia on the east coast of Africa.

The CH-53E Super Stallion, valued at $26 million per aircraft, has been in service with the Marine Corps since 1981.

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