The U.S. military confirmed Sunday that 10 U.S. troops died when two transport helicopters from a unit based at a North Carolina Marine Corps base crashed into the sea last week off the coast of the African nation of Djibouti.
The CH-53E choppers, carrying a dozen crew and troops from a U.S. counterterrorism force, went down Friday in the Gulf of Aden, near the northern coastal town of Ras Siyyan. Two crewmembers were rescued.
The search for the others was called off Saturday when the military said it had accounted for the 10 troops but it declined to reveal their fate until family members were notified.
The troops included U.S. Marines and two Air Force airmen, according to a statement by the U.S.-led Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa. The helicopters are part of the HMH 464 squadron based at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, N.C.
"Our deepest sympathy and heartfelt prayers go out to the family members, friends, loved ones and co-workers of our fallen brothers- and sisters-in-arms," said Maj. Gen. Timothy Ghormley, commanding general of the counterterrorism force. "We mourn their loss and honor their memory."
Relatives had been notified, but names of those killed were being withheld, according to the statement.
The rescued troops were in stable condition and were flown to the U.S. military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in southern Germany on Saturday.
Authorities were investigating the cause of the crash, task force spokesman Maj. Susan Romano said.