Five US military members were killed in a refueling accident during training that caused the aircraft carrying them to crash into the Mediterranean Sea, the American defense department said in a statement on Sunday.
The US European command said in an initial statement that the cause of the crash remained under investigation, but there had been “no indications of hostile activity”, ABC News reported.
The European command didn’t release additional details but said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the fallen.” The names of those killed had not been immediately released as officials worked to notify their relatives.
Joe Biden issued a statement mourning the deaths, saying that they illustrate how military members “put their lives on the line for our country every day”.
The president added: “They willingly take risks to keep the American people safe and secure. And their daily bravey and selflessness is an enduring testament to what is best in our nation.”
As ABC News noted, Biden alluded to how the crash occurred at the start of the weekend commemorating Veterans Day. The president’s statement said: “We once more affirm the sacred obligation we bear to those who volunteer to serve our nation as well as their families, caregivers and survivors.
“[First lady] Jill [Biden] and I are praying for the families and friends who have lost a precious loved one – a piece of their soul. Our entire nation shares their grief.”