BREAKING: bodies of 7 U.S. sailors found

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The seven U.S. sailors missing after a Navy destroyer collided with a container ship off Japan were found in flooded berthing compartments on Saturday. The bodies being found were confirmed by the U.S. 7th Fleet and a defense official.

“The families are being notified and being provided the support they need during this difficult time,” the 7th Fleet said in a statement issued Sunday morning local time. “The names of the Sailors will be released after all notifications are made.”

The USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship the ACX Crystal at around 2:30 a.m. Saturday local time (1:30 p.m. Friday ET) about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, officials said.

The collision caused damage to the Fitzgerald’s forward starboard side above and below the waterline. Two berthing spaces, a machinery space, and the radio room were damaged or flooded, the Fleet said earlier.

The Fleet said the sailors were found as search and rescue crews gained access to the spaces that were damaged in the collision, and the sailors were found in flooded berthing compartments.

The sailors were being transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka, where they will be identified, the Navy said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. The ACX Crystal had 20 crew Filipino crew members aboard and there were no injuries on that vessel, a Japanese Coast Guard official said.

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