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Search Continues for Crew of 2 US Military Copters Missing Off Hawaii

A U.S. Marine Corps officer uses binoculars to search for debris of two helicopters missing off the coast of Hawaii, in Haliewa Beach Park, Hawaii, Jan. 15, 2016.

U.S. military teams extended their search Sunday for 12 Marines missing in the central Pacific after their helicopters apparently collided late Thursday during a training mission off the coast of Hawaii.

Military authorities say strong winds and high seas have hampered the search in an area north of the island of Oahu, and say debris has been spotted scattered over an 11-kilometer stretch of coastline.

Authorities say a civilian reported seeing the two aircraft collide in a fireball late Thursday, and say no distress calls were received from either aircraft.

As the search continued Sunday, Marine commanders released the identities of the two 6-man crews. The missing range in age from 21 to 41 and hail from 10 states.

A U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman, speaking Sunday from Honolulu, said there were no immediate plans to call off or suspend the search.

The huge transport helicopters were part of a Marine Air Corps unit based in Hawaii. A military website describes the CH-53E aircraft as the U.S. military's largest helicopter, capable of carrying 16 tons of cargo or a team of combat-equipped Marines and an armored vehicle.