The US military reported Sunday that five American service members were killed after a helicopter fell into the Mediterranean during a training exercise.
Military officials did not say where the helicopter was flying from, but the US has sent a carrier strike group to the Mediterranean to prevent the Israel-Hamas conflict from escalating into a regional conflict.
“During a routine air refueling mission as part of military training, a US military aircraft carrying five service members suffered a mishap and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. All five of the service members onboard the aircraft were killed,” the US European Command (EUCOM) said in a statement.
In a White House statement, President Joe Biden paid respect to the dead, who died on a weekend when Americans were celebrating military veterans.
“Our service members put their lives on the line for our country every day,” Biden said. “They willingly take risks to keep the American people safe and secure. And their daily bravery and selflessness is an enduring testament to what is best in our nation.”
In a statement, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also expressed his sorrow, identifying the fallen aircraft as a helicopter.
While EUCOM initially stated that the crash occurred on November 10, Austin stated that it occurred on Saturday morning.