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Search Suspended for 12 Missing Marines in Helicopter Crash

The Coast Guard and other agencies searched for five days for the 12 Marines, who were aboard two helicopters believed to have collided off Oahu.

The Coast Guard on Tuesday suspended the search for survivors of a Marine helicopter crash off the coast of Oahu last week.

"I know I speak for the entire Coast Guard when I say our thoughts and prayers are with Marine Corps helicopter squadron 463 and particularly with families and loved ones of those missing," Coast Guard Capt. Jim Jenkins said at a news conference Tuesday.

Twelve Marines were aboard the two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters that crashed off Oahu’s north shore Thursday night.

Related: 12 Marines Missing After Helicopter Crash Identified

Investigators believe the aircraft collided in midair while conducting what has been described as routine nighttime flying.

Searchers found all four life rafts from the two helicopters as well as pieces of the wreckage on the sea floor, but no sign of the missing air crews, Jenkins said. More than 21,000 square nautical miles of ocean had been searched as of 8 a.m. Monday, the Coast Guard said.

The Marines will continue the salvage and recovery operation.

A debris field of aircraft parts believed to be from the crash was found around 2 miles off shore in about 325 feet of water, Jenkins said. The aircraft are from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing from Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

"To the families that are most affected by this, our prayers and support are to them. That’s our number one goal and focus," said Marine Brigadier General Russell Sandborn, commander of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation. A memorial at the base is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Sandborn said.