12 Marines in helicopter crash declared dead

HONOLULU (AP) — The Marine Corps says the 12 Marines who were in two helicopters that crashed off Hawaii are considered dead.

The status of the missing Marines changed to deceased on Wednesday, after five days of searching for them. The Marine Corps says casualty assistance calls officers personally notified each family of the change.

The search began late Thursday when a civilian on a beach reported seeing the aircraft flying and then a fireball.

According to the Coast Guard, there was no mayday call, just word that something had gone wrong.

The Marines were alerted when the CH-53E helicopters carrying six crew members each failed to return to their base at Kaneohe Bay following a nighttime training mission. Hours later, a Coast Guard helicopter and C-130 airplane spotted debris 2 1/2 miles off of Oahu.

130 rescuers covered more than 40,000 nautical square miles, an area about the size of Florida, in search of any survivors.

The Marines were from various states and ranged in age from 21 to 41.