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Philippine Paratrooper Dies during Exercises with US Forces

U.S. and Philippine officers stand at attention at the opening of the joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise Balikatan 2016 Monday, April 4, 2016 at Camp Aguinaldo, in Quezon city, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
U.S. and Philippine officers stand at attention at the opening of the joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise Balikatan 2016 Monday, April 4, 2016 at Camp Aguinaldo, in Quezon city, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine air force paratrooper who parachuted from a C-130 plane in an exercise with U.S. forces died Thursday after a wind gust blew him out to sea instead of an airport drop zone, officials said.

The Filipino paratrooper from a special air force operations unit was rescued 15 minutes after the accident at the Subic Bay free port, a former U.S. Naval base northwest of Manila, but he died later in a hospital, Philippine army spokesman Capt. Celeste Frank Sayson said.

About 3,500 Filipino troops and 5,000 American military personnel are participating in the Balikatan or shoulder-to-shoulder combat exercises that started Monday. The 11-day maneuvers aim to prepare U.S. and Philippine troops to quickly respond to a range of potential crises, including in the disputed South China Sea.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will fly to the Philippines next week to witness some of the maneuvers, underscoring the importance Washington puts on the joint combat drills that have been staged 32 times by the treaty allies.

Accident prevention is part of the meticulous planning for the joint exercises by both militaries, but mishaps have happened. In 2000, a Filipino marine was ran over by an amphibious vehicle and died during a beach landing exercise in Cavite province south of Manila.

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