Seven Marines and one US Navy sailor who went missing after an incident during training exercises in southern California are presumed dead, according to a statement by the I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Earlier, search and rescue efforts were being made with the support of the Navy and the Coast Guard.

“It is with a heavy heart, that I decided to conclude the search and rescue effort,” Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th MEU Commanding Officer, said in a statement.

“The steadfast dedication of the Marines, Sailors, and Coast Guardsmen to the persistent rescue effort was tremendous.”

​The incident, that initially left 1 Marine dead and 8 counterparts missing after some training exercises off the coast of southern California, involved 15 Marines and one sailor. An amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) in which they were riding began to sink near the coast, off of San Clemente.

According to Gen. David H. Berger, a Marine Corps commandant, two other vehicles observed the “training mishap”, and their observations were used to locate the place where the AAV sank.

The soldiers involved were assigned the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.

After the “mishap,” US Marine Corps suspended the use of amphibious assault vehicles in training exercises.

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