The recovery mission and investigation into a horror helicopter crash which killed three U.S. Marines will be “prolonged, enduring and complex,” according to the NT Police Commissioner.
“We are planning to be at the crash site for at least ten days at this stage,” Michael Murphy told a press conference on Monday.
“The emergency operations centre will now focus on the recovery of the three deceased Marines with dignity.”
The three Marines were killed when their V-22 Osprey aircraft crashed shortly after 9:30am on Sunday during a training exercise on the Tiwi Islands, 60km north of Darwin.
A further twenty people needed to be transferred to hospital for further treatment.
Earlier in Monday’s press conference, NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles paid an emotional tribute to those involved in the accident.
“I would just like to start by acknowledging that the Marines are part of the Territory community,” began Ms Fyles, her voice shaking as she spoke.
“These people weren’t simply here for a few weeks on an exercise..... we are all feeling their loss,” she added, before going on to praise the rescue effort, which took place in a remote area of the NT.
“It was a huge effort from that remote location across to Darwin,” said Ms Fyles.
As of Monday afternoon there were still eight people being treated in Royal Darwin Hospital, with Ms Fyles confirming twelve people had been discharged.
Ms Fyles did not confirm the condition of those who remained in hospital, but looked to reassure their families that they were getting “the best care possible”.
As well as recovering the bodies of the dead Marines, the next stage of the operation will look to determine what caused the fatal crash.