According to CNN, four Australian army aircrew members were pronounced deceased when the helicopter they were aboard fell into the water, quoting Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles.
The incident occurred on Friday as part of a joint exercise between Australia and the United States. Captain Danniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph Laycock, and Corporal Alexander Naggs were among those killed.
“The loss of these four men is as significant and meaningful as the loss of anyone who has worn our nation’s uniform. If it is, as we imagine it to be, they died on Friday night making a difference,” CNN quoted Marles as saying.
“Significant wreckage of the MRH-90 helicopter has now been located,” Marles said, indicating the men likely died in the “catastrophic” incident late Friday.
Marles further said the “determined recovery effort involving hundreds of defence force personnel” is underway, saying there will be a “full investigation” to understand exactly what happened.
The plane “impacted waters” near Lindeman Island, off the coast of Queensland. According to CNN, quoting the Australian Defence Ministry, a search and rescue operation involving both search and rescue aircraft and sea vessels is underway.
“It has been a very difficult weekend for our nation,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said as he motioned the Australian parliament on Monday to mourn the servicemen who died.
“They were soldiers, and they were sons, husbands, brothers, fathers, friends, and today our deepest sympathies are with the people who love them, and the people that they love,” CNN quoted Albanese as saying.