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US Navy helicopter crashes off Southern California coast

A US Navy helicopter crashed on Tuesday afternoon off the coast of San Diego, California, prompting search and rescue operations by sea and air, according to the US Pacific Fleet.

“An MH-60S helicopter embarked aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) crashed into the sea while conducting routine flight operations approximately 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego at 4.30 p.m. PST, Aug. 31,” the fleet’s commander said in a statement.

The statement did not reveal how many people were on board and whether there were any casualties, saying “more information will be posted as it becomes available.”

However, citing a local news channel, Xinhua news agency reported that preliminary information indicates that one person had been rescued and five people were still unaccounted for.

Reportedly the search and rescue operations continued into the night with US Coast Guard and Navy “air and surface assets.”

The Coast Guard put one of its helicopters in the air around 10 p.m. local time on Tuesday (0500 GMT on Wednesday), and said it would continue searching for about eight hours, the reporter said.

CVN 72 is the fifth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in the Navy and a member of the US Pacific Fleet. The battleship’s home port is Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego.

The US Pacific Fleet confirmed the crash on its official Twitter page Tuesday night, and updated information later, saying “one crew member has been rescued and search efforts continue for the other missing crew members.”

The MH-60S is a versatile aircraft that typically carries a crew of four, and is used in missions including combat support, humanitarian disaster relief and search and rescue.

The incident came just 12 days after Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt took over command of CVN 72, becoming the first woman to lead a nuclear carrier in US Navy history.