Five US service members killed as aircraft crashes in Mediterranean

Personnel died in air refuelling training mission, says military, as Washington boosts presence in region

The Dwight D Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group passes through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean, where the US is bolstering support for Israel. AFP
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Five US service members died during a training accident when their aircraft crashed into the Mediterranean, US officials confirmed on Sunday.

“During a routine air refuelling mission as part of military training, a US military aircraft carrying five service members suffered a mishap and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea,” US European Command said.

“All five of the service members on-board the aircraft were killed.”

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin called the accident “tragic” and a “stark reminder that the brave men and women who defend our great nation put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our country safe”.

President Joe Biden also issued a statement honouring the service members, who died on Saturday, which was Veterans Day in the US.

“Jill and I are praying for the families and friends who have lost a precious loved one – a piece of their soul,” Mr Biden said in a statement.

“Our entire nation shares their grief. And, during this weekend when we pause to honour our nation’s veterans, we once more affirm the sacred obligation we bear to those who volunteer to serve our nation as well as their families, caregivers and survivors.”

US European Command did not specify exactly where the accident occurred or where the service members were travelling to.

Washington has stationed a carrier strike group in the Mediterranean as part of its efforts to bolster military support of Israel and deter the Israel-Gaza conflict from becoming a regional war.

Updated: November 14, 2023, 5:42 AM