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Military crews continued their search Thursday for four Navy aviators whose S-3B Viking jet crashed into a small, uninhabited volcanic island north of Iwo Jima on Tuesday night.

“Right now I can tell you that the search continues,” Lt. Cmdr. Marc Boyd, a 7th Fleet spokesman, said Thursday afternoon. “It’s a tragic event. Of course our thoughts and prayers go out to the families.”

The Navy has not released the San Diego-based aviators’ names. The plane’s wreckage was discovered on Kita Io Jima after the pilots failed to return to the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis Tuesday night — the first night of a four-day western Pacific joint training exercise involving the Stennis and the USS Kitty Hawk.

An update on the search efforts was to be published on the “Navy NewsStand” Web page at www.news.navy.mil on Thursday night, a Navy official said, but as of midnight no new information had been posted.

Kitty Hawk aviators helped with the search-and-rescue work. The San Diego Tribune reported that inspecting the wreckage and searching the island may be difficult because Kita Io Jima — sometimes spelled “Kita Iwo Jima” — is the top of a volcano that extends 2,520 feet above the Pacific Ocean.

— Nancy Montgomery contributed to this report.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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