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Seven reported missing after US Navy, merchant ships collide off Japan

The guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, (foreground) is shown earlier this month with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group in the Sea of Japan. The U.S. military said the Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan and said there have been injuries. In a brief written statement, U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii said the Navy has requested assistance from the Japanese Coast Guard. | Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey L. Adams/US Navy, distributed by the Associated Press

TOKYO — Seven crew members are reportedly missing and one injured after a U.S. Navy destroyer collided early Saturday morning with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan, the country’s coast guard reported.

Footage from the Japanese TV network NHK showed heavy damage to the mid-right side of the Navy ship and a person in a stretcher being lifted to a helicopter.

The U.S. 7th Fleet said on its Facebook page that it is working with the Japanese Coast Guard to conduct a medical evacuation for a sailor. The fleet said the number of injuries is still being determined.

The Japanese Coast Guard said it received an emergency call from a Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal at around 2:20 a.m. (1720 GMT Friday) that it had collided with the USS Fitzgerald southwest of Yokusuka, Japan.

Coast Guard spokesman Yuichi Sugino said coast guard patrol ships and aircraft were headed to the scene but said that no further details were immediately available.

The Philippine ship is 29,060 tons and is 222.6 meters (730 feet) long, the coast guard said.

The Navy said that the USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant ship 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, a city south of Tokyo that is home to a major U.S. Naval base. A U.S. defense official said there is flooding in three compartments of the Fitzgerald.

The 7th Fleet says the ship experienced flooding in some areas and it is heading back to Yokosuka. The fleet said the Fitzgerald has limited propulsion, and the ship suffered damage on the starboard side below the water line.

The fleet said the USS Dewey, medical assistance and two Navy tugs were being dispatched as quickly as possible and that Naval aircraft were being readied to help.

The Pacific Fleet said the extent of injuries and damage to the Fitzgerald are being determined, and the incident is under investigation.