Helsinki (AP) – Four American soldiers were killed in a plane crash in a Norwegian city beyond the Arctic Circle during a NATO exercise not related to the war in Ukraine, the Norwegian Prime Minister said on Saturday.

Jonas Gar Store wrote on Twitter that they were killed in a crash on Friday night. The reason is being clarified, but Norwegian police have reported bad weather in the area.

“Soldiers participated in the NATO Cold Response exercise,” Gar Stoyer said. “Our deepest condolences to the families, relatives and comrades-in-arms in their part.”

The plane was a V-22B Osprey owned by the U.S. Marine Corps, the Norwegian Armed Forces said.

“The plane’s crew consisted of four people and it was on a training mission in Nordland County in northern Norway,” the report said.

He was heading north to Bodo, where he was due to land just before 6pm on Friday. The plane crashed in Gredalen in Bayern, south of Bodo. Police said a search and rescue mission was launched immediately. Police arrived at the scene at 1:30 a.m. Saturday and confirmed that a crew of four had died.

“We can confirm that there was an incident involving the MV-22B Osprey Marine Corps,” the U.S. Marine Corps tweeted. “The cause of the incident is being investigated and additional details will be provided as available.”

NATO’s annual exercises in Norway are not related to the war in Ukraine. This year they will have about 30,000 servicemen, 220 planes and 50 ships from 27 countries. Non-NATO Finland and Sweden are also involved.

The exercises began on March 14 and will end on April 1.

The cause of the disaster was not named, but the Norwegian Armed Forces said the Cold Response “will continue as planned, with measures we must take due to the weather”.

Police have launched an investigation into the crash, and members of the accident commission and police officials were due to arrive at the crash site on Saturday.

“The weather in the area is too bad to complete the work at the scene, but the police will do it again as soon as the weather conditions allow,” Operations Manager Ivar Bo Nilsson of the Norland Police District told reporters.

Lieutenant General Ingve Odla, Chief of Staff of the Norwegian Armed Forces, said the “Cold Response” would continue despite the disaster.

“Now the full focus is on stopping the rescue operation, caring for people, and then there will be a normal procedure with causation,” – said Odlo Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.

The first Cold Response exercise took place in 2006, and over the years the exercise has been conducted a total of eight times. They occur in southeastern, central and northern Norway.

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