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Military Helicopter Crashes in Florida, Eleven Missing and Presumed Dead

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An army helicopter has crashed during a training exercise off the coast of Florida.  Eleven people are missing and presumed dead, seven Marines and four crewmembers.  Eglin Air Force Base, about fifty miles east of Pensacola was under a fog advisory when the crash happened.  Dense fog was still in the area when rescue operations mounted Wednesday morning, hampering the search.

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Eglin spokesman Mike Spaits, according to USA Today, is not confirming that all lives have been lost.  He is quoted as saying “There’s always hope.  Search and recovery – that’s the key.”  The Marines are reportedly from Camp Lejuene, North Carolina and the crew persons are from a National Guard unit in Louisiana.

Debris and wreckage has started washing up on shore and the tail rotor has been recovered.  Searchers have been limited to a ground search because of the heavy fog.  The New York Times reports that some human remains have been recovered washing ashore.  A Coast Guard spokesman confirmed that two small boats are being used in the rescue operation. 

Names have not been released pending notification of the families.

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