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Coast Guard calls off search for sailor missing after Navy chopper crash

The Coast Guard has called off the search for a sailor missing off the coast of Virginia after a U.S. Navy helicopter crashed there, killing two other crewmen.

The helicopter, a MH-53E Sea Dragon, was carrying five crew members when it went down in the Atlantic Ocean Wednesday morning off the coast of Norfolk. Four crew members had been rescued from the water, the Navy initially said, but two of the four rescued were confirmed dead later on Wednesday.

A search-and-rescue operation had been under way for the fifth crew member, but on Thursday afternoon, the Coast Guard announced it was calling off the effort. 

The announcement came hours after parts of the helicopter were found. U.S. Navy officials said the fuselage, where the missing sailor was likely stuck, had not yet been located, but other parts of the helicopter had been.

The two surviving crew members were taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital; one was listed in serious condition on Thursday, and one in fair condition, according to NBC Virginia affiliate WAVY.com. 

None of the crew members' identities were released.

The MH-53E was conducting a routine training mission when it made the emergency water landing about 20 nautical miles east of Virginia Beach, a U.S. Navy official said. It was conducting the training mission in tandem with another MH-53E at the time.

The Navy said it took about a half hour to rescue the first two sailors after a distress call went out at around 10:45 a.m., reported WAVY.com. The other two sailors were rescued within an hour of the distress call. 

Nearby Coast Guard assets were first to respond when the helicopter went down. U.S. Navy helicopters responded soon after to help with the search and rescue of the missing sailors.

The aircraft is part of the Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron, based at Naval Air Station Norfolk.

The crash came a day after four American airmen were killed when a U.S. military helicopter carrying live ammunition crashed on the east coast of England.

The MH-53E does not carry any weapons. It performs airborne mine countermeasures and onboard delivery missions, according to the Naval Air Systems Command website.

It is not clear what caused the crash.

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