“It is with great sadness we have received the message that four American soldiers died in a plane crash last night,” Jonas Gahr Støre said on his official Twitter account.
“The soldiers participated in the NATO exercise Cold Response. Our deepest sympathies go to the soldiers’ families, relatives and fellow soldiers in their unit,” he added.
The MV-22B Osprey aircraft, assigned to the II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) US military unit, was “on a training mission in Nordland County, northern Norway on Friday” with a crew of four, the Norwegian Armed Forces said.
The aircraft was spotted from a rescue helicopter, and appeared to have crashed in the municipality of Beiarn, Nordland Police chief of staff, Bent Arne Eilertsen, told public broadcaster NRK on Saturday. The craft appeared to have “major damage,” Eilertsen said.
“What we have been told is that it is an American plane with Americans on board,” Eilertsen added.
The US Marine Corps said in a statement that the aircraft was taking part in NATO exercises when it was involved in a “mishap.”
“Although the nature of military service is inherently dangerous, the safety of our Marines, Sailors, Allies and partners is our top priority,” the statement said.
Bad weather means search crews need to access the site by land, with rescuers using snowmobiles to reach the scene, according to Eilertsen.
“Precipitation, avalanche danger, wind and darkness make such a rescue operation demanding,” Eilertsen said.
The aircraft was reported missing at 6:26 pm local time Friday while heading toward the town of Bodø, located north of the Arctic Circle, the Norwegian Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) said in a statement.
The aircraft’s last known position was by Saltfjellet, a mountainous area of Nordland county, the statement added.
The Norwegian Safety Investigation Authority and The National Criminal Investigation Service will arrive in Bodø on Saturday and start their investigation at the town’s airport.
Due to the poor weather, they will most likely make their way to the crash site on Sunday, according to NRK.