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Search Continues For Military Black Hawk That Crashed With 11 On Board

Update at 6:13 p.m. ET

The search continues for an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that crashed late Tuesday night off the Florida coast. Seven Marines and four members of the Louisiana National Guard were on a routine nighttime training mission at Eglin Air Force Base.

"Both of the pilots were instructor pilots, which is really one of the highest, or the highest rating we have for our pilots in the Army, and the entire crew had several thousand hours of operation flying the Black Hawk," Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis of the Louisiana National Guard told reporters.

He said the guard members have been on two deployments to Iraq and responded to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Gulf oil spill.

The Marines were are assigned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, as part of the Marine Special Operations Regiment.

The 11 people on board are presumed dead; their names are being withheld, pending next-of-kin notification. Eglin public affairs officer Jasmine Porterfield tells NPR's Newscast unit that "human remains have washed onshore this morning." She did not provide further details, saying that search-and-rescue efforts are continuing at the site, which is east of the Navarre Bridge.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families as the search and rescue continues," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday, during a visit to Capitol Hill.

Officials have not said what caused the crash, but heavy fog was reported at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday when the helicopter was reported missing.

Two helicopters were taking part in the exercise, but Curtis said the other one "started to take off and then realized, I guess, that the weather was a condition and turned around." That helicopter landed safely.

Both Black Hawks are assigned to the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion in Hammond, La.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.
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