Five US Marines aboard helicopter that went down outside San Diego are confirmed dead, military says

“I do know that it’s cold. I know that’s been a contentious issue” for searchers in reaching the crash site.President Joe Biden said in a statement that he and first lady Jill Biden are “heartbroken” to learn of the Marines’ deaths.“Our service members represent the very best of our nation — and these five Marines were no exception,” Biden said. “As the Department of Defense continues to assess what occurred, we extend our deepest condolences to their families, their squadron, and the U.S. Marine Corps as we grieve the loss of five of our nation’s finest warriors.”The last known contact with the helicopter was at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mike Cornette of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told CBS 8 news. That location was based on a “ping” reported to a Cal Fire dispatch center.The craft was discovered Wednesday morning near the mountain community of Pine Valley, an hour’s drive from San Diego.Civilian authorities searching on ground and by air located the aircraft, which went down during stormy weather in the Southern California mountains, about 45-miles (72-kilometers) from San Diego.The helicopter, which was designed to fly in harsh conditions, went missing as an historic storm dumped heavy snow and record rain over California. More rain and snow hit the region Wednesday night, forcing searchers to battle through heavy snow to reach the helicopter.The five Marines were assigned to Miramar’s Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, the military said in a statement.The CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest helicopter in the military and the Marines have used it for heavy-lifting duties around the world for more than three decades. More than 130 are in operation.

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