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Navy helicopter crashes off Southern California coast

A Coast Guard spokesman says few details are known. The helicopter went down about 17 miles east of San Clemente Island, the southernmost of the Channel Islands.

October 30, 2009|Robert J. Lopez

A crash occurred Thursday evening between two aircraft, possibly a Coast Guard C-130 transport airplane and a Marine AH-1 Cobra helicopter, and rescue crews spotted debris in the water, the Coast Guard said.

Preliminary information indicated that the plane contained seven crew members, and the helicopter two, according to Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Coast Guard and Navy launched a search for survivors.

Debris was spotted about 15 miles off San Clemente Island, the Coast Guard said.

"Right now we are planning to search throughout the night," a spokesman told reporters at a news conference late Thursday.

No survivors had been spotted as of Thursday night.

Gregor said that a pilot reported seeing a fireball about 7:10 p.m. near the suspected crash site.

Three Coast Guard cutters and four Navy ships, along with several helicopters, were involved in the search.

Search conditions were good because of calm waters and ample moonlight, a Coast Guard spokesman said at a San Diego news conference.

--

robert.lopez@latimes.com

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