Final CH-53 Life Raft Recovered With No Survivors Aboard

A search vessel cruises the waters off the beach at Haleiwa, Hawaii, Jan. 15, 2016. Two Marine helicopters carrying 12 crew members collided off the island of Oahu during a nighttime training mission, military officials said. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
A search vessel cruises the waters off the beach at Haleiwa, Hawaii, Jan. 15, 2016. Two Marine helicopters carrying 12 crew members collided off the island of Oahu during a nighttime training mission, military officials said. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

Coast Guard rescue teams have now recovered all four life rafts from two Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallions that went down off the north shore of Oahu on Thursday night, a Marine Corps official said Monday evening.

Now at the start of its fifth day, the search for survivors among the 12 Marines who were aboard the two aircraft continues.

As of Monday, military and civilian responders had completed 89 searches covering some 21,000 square nautical miles of area in overlapping regions in and around a debris field that now extends over much of the island's north shore.

Coast Guard officials announced earlier in the day that they had recovered three empty life rafts and were attempting to recover the fourth, which had been spotted by a "Good Samaritan" north of Kahuku, a town on the northeast side of the island.

As the days pass without a sign of survivors, the Marine Corps community has circulated messages with the hashtag "#PrayforPegasus," a reference to the nickname of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, to which both of the downed choppers were attached.

The cause of the accident, which reportedly involved a collision between the two aircraft, is still under investigation.

Marine and Coast Guard officials have said they will not formally stop the search for survivors until notifying families and the public of their intention to do so. That decision will be based on a calculation of the likelihood of survival based on conditions and other factors affecting the search.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@monster.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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Marine Corps Accidents