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Five U.S. Navy helicopter crew members declared dead after crash off San Diego coast

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Navy on Saturday declared dead the five missing crew members of a helicopter that crashed off the coast of California earlier this week, as recovery operations continued.

“The U.S. Navy has declared the five missing crew members of an MH-60S helicopter crash, deceased. U.S. 3rd Fleet has shifted from search and rescue efforts to recovery operations,” the Navy said in a statement.

The helicopter took off from the USS Abraham Lincoln on Tuesday and crashed into the Pacific Ocean 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego during routine flight operations, according to the Navy.

One crew member had been rescued, the U.S. Navy Third Fleet said.

The identities of the five deceased crew members were being withheld pending notification of their next of kin, and an investigation into the incident was underway, the Navy said.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

FILE PHOTO of an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, from the “EightBallers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ian Kinkead)