The cause of the crash is unknown and will be investigated, the statement said. The Marine Corps did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Sunday.
The Marines were flying in support of Exercise Predator’s Run, a joint military exercise involving troops from Australia, the United States, and other countries, the force added.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called the crash “tragic,” Reuters reported, and Northern Territory Incident Controller Matthew Hollamby called it “a significant incident.” He said in a statement that all necessary resources would be deployed.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said Sunday that the aircraft crashed in a remote area and no civilians were injured. She said an emergency response was underway to triage the victims of the crash and transport them to hospital.
“Australia and the U.S. are working together to respond to this incident,” she said.
The police commissioner for the Northern Territory, Michael Murphy, said Melville Island has a long history of serving as a base for military exercises, and an emergency response was activated almost immediately after the first reports of a crash.
The U.S. Marine Corps primarily uses the MV-22B Osprey — a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter, and is capable of transitioning in midair to fly like a fixed-wing airplane — to transport troops and equipment.
But the aircraft’s safety record has come under scrutiny in the wake of several deadly crashes.
In June of last year, five Marines were killed when their Osprey crashed near Glamis, Calif., just north of the Mexican border.
Three months earlier, an Osprey crashed during NATO exercises in Norway, killing four American service members.
In 2017, a Marine Osprey crashed in Syria, injuring two. That year, a crash in Australia also left three Marines dead. One of the deadliest Osprey crashes came in April 2000, when all 19 Marines aboard perished.
The latest incident comes about a month after four Australian soldiers were killed when their MRH-90 Taipain helicopter crashed off the coast of Queensland in eastern Australia. That crash occurred during another joint military training exercise with U.S. forces called Talisman Sabre.
Alex Horton and Andrew Jeong contributed to this report.
POST AUTHOR: Annabelle Timsit