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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Two airmen assigned to Kadena Air Base were killed in a water accident Thursday afternoon off Cape Zanpa.

A third airman was transported to the U.S. Naval Hospital on Camp Lester and released, according to 18th Wing public affairs officials. Names were not released pending notification of next of kin.

The incident occurred around 12:30 p.m. at a popular scenic area and diving spot on the west-central coast of Okinawa, which is also known as Bolo Point.

According to an Okinawa Prefectural Police spokesman, the three dove into the water from the rocky cliffs that loom some 65 feet high. The area, marked by a towering lighthouse, has claimed several lives in recent years. Initial reports indicate the three airmen jumped into the water.

“We understand it was on a dare, just for fun,” the police spokesman said. “One of them managed to swim back to shore; the other two, ages 20 and 21, drowned.”

He said a woman, who was alerted by the surviving airman, reported the incident to the Japanese coast guard, which initiated a search with police and fire department divers. The two bodies were recovered by divers about 98 feet off shore under about 65 feet of water.

They airmen were pronounced dead at 3:11 p.m. at the U.S. Naval Hospital.

The police spokesman said there was a high wave warning in effect at the time of Thursday’s accident.

The incident remains under investigation and Kadena authorities are cooperating fully with Japanese authorities, an 18th Wing Public Affairs spokesman said.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the loved ones of the families of the individuals involved,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Remington, commander of the 18th Wing.

Thursday’s incident follows the death on March 6 of a 3rd Marine Division lance corporal who drowned when attempting to help a fellow Marine in distress who was snorkeling at nearby Maeda Point.

On March 4, a 62-year-old Japanese fisherman from Gushikawa died when a sudden high wave swept him away from the rocks at Bolo Point.

And on Jan. 1, two U.S. Department of Defense civilians drowned while scuba diving in the area’s rough waters. The area, in the East China Sea, is known for its deadly tidal shifts.

Rescue squad members from a nearby Okinawa fire station in the village of Onna say two to three people a year are killed in accidents in the waters off Bolo and Maeda points, usually during hazardous sea conditions.

— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

Stay informed

To find out the latest Sea Condition, go to the Kadena Weather Web site at www.kadena.af.mil/weather/update/sea.htm, stay tuned to Armed Forces Network radio or television, or call the Torii Station SCUBA Locker at 644-4263, Tsunami Gear on Camp Foster at 645-4206, or the Kadena Marina at 634-6344.

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