Status of missing Marines changed to deceased

U.S. Marines walk on the beach at Waimea Bay near Haleiwa, Hawaii, where two military helicopters crashed into the ocean about 2 miles offshore, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. The helicopters carrying 12 crew members collided off the Hawaiian island of Oahu during a nighttime training mission, and rescuers are searching a debris field in choppy waters Friday, military officials said. (Mariana Keller via AP Photo)

HONOLULU (AP) — The Marine Corps says the 12 Marines who were in two helicopters that crashed off Hawaii are considered dead.

The status of the missing Marines changed to deceased on Wednesday, after five days of searching for them. The Marine Corps says casualty assistance calls officers personally notified each family of the change.

The search began late Thursday when a civilian on a beach reported seeing the aircraft flying and then a fireball.

The Marines were alerted when the CH-53E helicopters carrying six crew members each failed to return to their base at Kaneohe Bay following a nighttime training mission. Hours later, a Coast Guard helicopter and C-130 airplane spotted debris 2 1/2 miles off of Oahu.

The Marines were from various states and ranged in age from 21 to 41.

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