The U.S. military continued an all-out search Friday for seven Marines and a Navy sailor who went missing in the ocean near San Clemente Island when an amphibious assault vehicle sank during a training exercise, killing at least one member of the crew.

Nearly 24 hours after the armored troop carrier foundered roughly 80 miles off the coast of San Diego, Marine Corps officials continued to view the around-the-clock effort to find the missing personnel as a prospective rescue operation, according to Gen. David Berger, USMC commandant.

“We have not moved into a recovery operation,” Berger told reporters during a mid-afternoon briefing at Camp Pendleton, the home base of the personnel involved the accident.

The AAV sank for unknown reasons about 5:45 p.m. Thursday, more than 1,000 yards from shore on the northwest side of the island while the crew was en route to a waiting ship, said Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Seven of the personnel aboard it were able to get out of the vehicle and were pulled from the water. Medics took three of them to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, where one was pronounced dead and the others were admitted in critical but stable condition.

As of Friday afternoon, the other five rescued Marines had gotten clean bills of health and had returned to their units.

Taking part in the search for the missing personnel, which has continued unabated since the time of the accident, were the crews aboard the USS John Finn, three U.S. Navy helicopters, several smaller USN vessels, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a chopper from USCG Sector San Diego.

The names of the victims — all members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit — and further details about them were withheld out of respect for their families, according to USMC officials.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. I ask that you keep our Marines, sailors and their families in your prayers as we continue our search,” Col. Christopher Bronzi, commanding officer of the 15th MEU, said in a prepared statement.

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