U.S. Navy helicopter crashes off Virginia coast, killing two

WASHINGTON Thu Jan 9, 2014 5:15am EST

A U.S. Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter lands at Tainan air force base in southern Taiwan in this file handout photo from August 17, 2009. REUTERS/Taiwan Military News Agency/Handout

A U.S. Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter lands at Tainan air force base in southern Taiwan in this file handout photo from August 17, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Taiwan Military News Agency/Handout

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy helicopter crashed off the Virginia coast on Wednesday, killing two of five crew members while another is missing, the military said.

The MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter was on a training flight when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Fort Story, about 150 miles south of Washington, the Navy said in a statement.

A nearby Coast Guard cutter and two helicopters were sent to the site after receiving a distress call at about 10:45 a.m. EST (1545 GMT), said Captain Todd Flannery, commander of Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic, during an online news conference.

Two of the survivors are in stable condition at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, according to the Navy. A fifth crew member is missing, Flannery said.

Neither the two pilots nor the three air crewmen have been identified. Flannery said the cause of the crash was under investigation.

The helicopter was part of an anti-mine squadron based at Norfolk, Virginia.

(Reporting by Lacey Johnson; editing by Ian Simpson, Chizu Nomiyama, Cynthia Osterman, Gunna Dickson and Lisa Shumaker)

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