Seven U.S. Marines were killed Wednesday night when two helicopters collided over the Yuma, Ariz., Training Range Complex, according to a statement just emailed to the NPR Newscast Desk by a spokesman for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
The statement adds that:
"The aircraft, an AH-1W 'Cobra' and an UH-1Y 'Huey,' were conducting routine training operations around 8:00 p.m. Identities of the Marines will be withheld until next of kin have been notified."
Update at 1:30 p.m. ET. Two-Week Training Exercise Was Underway:
The Yuma Sun writes that "the two aircraft belonged to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, which is based at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. ... [Gunnery Sgt. Dustin Dunk, public affairs chief for Marine Corps Air Station Yuma] said the helicopters have been at MCAS Yuma as part of Scorpion Fire, which is a two-week long pre-deployment training for helicopter pilots."
Update at 9:42 a.m. ET. For More Information:
Maj. Carl Redding, director of public affairs at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, is posting updates here. His first message says that:
"Two 3rd MAW helicopters collided in a remote portion of the Yuma Training Range Complex killing seven Marines last night. More info 2 come."
Our original post:
NBC News appears to have been first to report that "seven Marines were killed when their two helicopters collided Wednesday night near Yuma, Ariz.," according to "defense officials."
But The Associated Press is reporting that "a military official says two Huey military helicopters have crashed in the Chocolate Mountains in southeast California, but it's unclear whether there are casualties."
We'll pass on more information as the story develops.