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Helicopter crash kills 3 Marines

A CH-46 Sea Knight like this one crashed Monday night, killing three Marines  

CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina (CNN) -- A U.S. Marine Corps helicopter on a training mission crashed into North Carolina's New River near the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base, killing three Marines and injuring two others.

The CH-46 Sea Knight went down at about 10:45 p.m. EDT Monday. The pilot and co-pilot were recovered by a Marine rescue team and taken to nearby hospitals. They were listed in stable condition.

"Two of the three remaining bodies have been recovered," said Clint Castaden, a Marine Corps public information officer. "The search for the body of a third service member continues."

The Marine Corps declined to release the names of the victims until next of kin are notified.

The CH-46 is used mainly for troop transport.

The same model helicopter crashed on a training flight 15 miles off the San Diego shore on December 9, 1999, killing seven Marines from Miramar Naval Air Station, The Associated Press reported.

A CH-46 helicopter was also involved in a May 1996 collision of two Marine helicopters at Camp Lejeune. Fourteen people died in the accident, according to the AP.

The Marines' aging fleet of CH-46s was scheduled to be replaced by the VS-22 Osprey, a helicopter-airplane hybrid, The Associated Press reported. But the changeover has been delayed because the Osprey has encountered numerous problems highlighted by two crashes last year that killed 23 Marines.

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