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Search ended for nine missing military air crew members off San Clemente Island

November 1, 2009 |  8:55 am

The Coast Guard has called off its rescue effort for nine missing military air crew members from a midair collision off San Clemente Island, officials said this morning.

"I have concluded that hope is no longer viable," said Rear Adm. Joseph Castillo in San Diego. "We no longer believe there is any chance anybody could be alive."

The Coast Guard and Navy have searched continuously since Thursday night for the seven crew members aboard a Coast Guard C-130 transport and the two pilots aboard a Marine Corps Super Cobra helicopter.

The two craft collided at 7:10 p.m. Thursday about 20 miles east of San Clemente Island.

Castillo said searchers have found debris but no bodies or signs that anyone has survived. An investigation has been launched into the cause of the collision.

The Coast Guard will now shift to a "recovery mode," Castillo said.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego