THREE US Marines have died after an Osprey military helicopter crashed on a remote island in Australia's Northern Territory.
US officials said there were 23 people on board the Boeing MV-22B Osprey that crashed during exercises on Melville Island.
A total of 20 have been injured during a multination training exercise, with five being flown to a hospital in Darwin in a serious condition.
"Recovery efforts are ongoing," US officials said, adding that an investigation into the cause of the incident had been launched.
One of the injured was undergoing surgery at the Royal Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said.
"Some were critically injured and patients were being triaged on arrival at Darwin's airport," she said.
"We acknowledge that this is a terrible incident", Fyles said.
"The Northern Territory government stands by to offer whatever assistance is required."
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the incident as "tragic" and "regrettable" but stressed that authorities were still trying to piece together what happened.
"We want to make sure that any information that is provided is absolutely accurate," he told reporters.
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The initial reports suggest that the incident involves just US defence force personnel, Albanese said.
The Osprey – a mix between a helicopter and a plane – was taking part in the Predators Run exercises, a joint series of warfighting drills involving thousands of soldiers from the US and Australia, as well as other militaries such as Indonesia and the Philippines.
Melville is part of the Tiwi Islands, which along with Darwin are the focus of the exercise that involves 2,500 troops.
The Osprey that crashed was one of two that had flown from Darwin to Melville on Sunday, Northern Territory Police Commissioner Michael Murphy said.
Around 150 US Marines are currently based in Darwin and up to 2,500 rotate through the city every year.
The incident follows another crash last month where four Australians died when their Taipan helicopter plunged into the sea during a series of multinational war games in Queensland.
The Taipan had been taking part in the large-scale Talisman Sabre exercise, which brought together 30,000 military personnel from Australia, the United States and several other nations.
It crashed near the Whitsunday Islands while taking part in a nighttime operation.
Last year four US Marines were killed in Norway when their V-22B Osprey aircraft went down during NATO training exercises.
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Three Marines were killed in 2017 when an Osprey crashed after clipping the back of a transport ship while trying to land at sea off Australia's north coast.
And 19 Marines died in 2000 when their Osprey crashed during drills in Arizona.
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