One Marine was killed and 21 other people taken to hospital after a US Marine Corps Osprey aircraft crashed in Hawaii, with dark smoke from the resulting fire billowing into the sky.
The tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey, which can take off and land like a helicopter but flies like an aeroplane, had a “hard-landing mishap” at about 11.40am local time, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit said.
Officials did not provide details about the conditions of the injured. Twenty-two people were aboard, including 21 Marines and one Navy corpsman assigned to the unit, spokesman Captain Brian Block said.
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit is based at Camp Pendleton in California and is in Hawaii for about a week for training.
The Osprey was being used for training at Bellows Air Force Station on Oahu at the time of the accident.
Kimberly Hynd said she was hiking the popular Lanikai Pillbox Trail and could see three Osprey aircraft performing manoeuvres from her vantage point in the hills above Bellows.
She noticed them kicking up dirt but then saw smoke and fire. Ms Hynd, who estimated she was two to three miles away, did not hear the sound of a large crash.
“It looked like they were doing some sort of manoeuvre or formation – and so I was taking pictures of it because usually you can’t see them that close up,” she said.
Ospreys may be equipped with radar, lasers and a missile defence system. Each can carry 24 Marines into combat.
Built by Boeing and Bell, a unit of Textron, the Osprey programme was nearly scrapped after a history of mechanical failures and two test crashes that killed 23 Marines in 2000.
The aircraft have since been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Some Osprey are also helping with earthquake relief efforts in Nepal.