March 19 (UPI) — Four U.S. Marines aboard a military helicopter that crashed during training in Norway were confirmed killed Saturday by Norwegian officials.
The Nordland police announced their deaths and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre confirmed.
“It is with great sadness we have received the message that four American soldiers died in a plane crash last night,” he said in a tweet. “The soldiers participated in the NATO exercise Cold Response. Our deepest sympathies go to the soldiers’ families, relatives and fellow soldiers in their unit.”
The U.S. military has yet to confirm the deaths. In its latest update, the II Marine Expeditionary Force said the four Marines were listed as “duty status whereabouts unknown.”
The Marines were aboard an MV-22B Osprey that went missing south of Bodø around 6:26 p.m. Friday, just after it was scheduled to land. Norway’s armed forces said the aircraft was located near Gratadalen, a valley south of Bodø, about 3 hours later.
The Marines belonged to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force and deployed out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
“My thoughts go to the bereaved and colleagues of the deceased. Thanks to everyone involved in the search and rescue operation,” said Chief of Defense Gen. Eirik Kristoffersen.
The Marines were participating in Cold Response 22, which NATO described as “a long-planned and regular exercise, which Norway hosts biannually.”
“This year’s exercise was announced over eight months ago,” the statement reads. “It is not linked to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, which NATO is responding to with preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory measures.”