HELSINKI — Four U.S. Marines were killed when their Osprey aircraft crashed in a Norwegian town in the Arctic Circle during a NATO exercise unrelated to Russia’s war in Ukraine, authorities said Saturday.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere posted that the victims died from Friday’s crash. Although the cause of the crash is still under investigation by police, Norwegian authorities reported that there was bad weather.
Marines assigned to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing II Marine Expeditionary Force participated in NATO’s Cold Response.
The U.S. says the identities of the Marines wouldn’t be immediately provided in keeping with U.S. Defense Department policy of notifying relatives.
It was an MV-22B Osprey. It “had a crew of four and was out on a training mission in Nordland County” in northern Norway, the country’s armed forces said in a statement.
It was heading north toward Bodoe. The aircraft was expected to arrive at Bodoe just before six o’clock Friday. The Osprey was south of Bodoe when it crashed at Graetaedalen near Beiarn. According to police, a search-and rescue operation was immediately initiated. The police responded at 1:30 am Saturday to the call and confirmed the death of the four-member crew.
Cold Response involves approximately 35,000 troops and 220 aircraft from 26 countries. 50 vessels are also included. Non-NATO countries Sweden and Finland are also taking part. Exercises began March 14th and ended April 1st
No cause was given for the crash, but the Norwegian armed forces said that Cold Response “will carry on as planned, with the measures we have to take due to the weather.”
Norwegian media reports that the rescue helicopter of Norway saw the site and assigned local Red Cross personnel to support police.
Norwegian newspaper VG reported that Red Cross volunteers drove to the accident site on scooters, and then marked the route with GPS. This was in response to extremely severe weather conditions Saturday morning.
“It was a special night, it was a real storm. Five of us were driving to the site of the accident. There was one meter of visibility, snow and storm in the mountains, ” Red Cross team leader Oerjan Kristensen told VG. “I guess it was a wind gust of 30-40 meters per second. When it blows like that, it is difficult to stand upright.”
Kristensen said that there is a risk of mountain landslides, as well as the distance from the crash site.
The crash was investigated by police. On Saturday, accident commissioner members and representatives of the police were expected to reach the site.
“The weather is very bad in the area to complete work at the scene, but police will take it up again as soon as the weather conditions allow it,” operations manager Ivar Bo Nilsson from the Norland police district told reporters.
Lt. Gen. Yngve Odlo, head of the Norwegian Armed Forces’ operational headquarters, said that Cold Response would continue despite the crash.
“Right now there is full focus on ending the rescue operation, taking care of the people and then there will be a normal procedure with causation,” Odlo was quoted as saying by Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.
Cold Response’s first exercise took place in 2006 and they are held every other year. These drills are held in the southeastern and central parts of Norway.
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