“It is with great sadness that we learned that four American soldiers died in a plane crash last night,” Jonas Gahr Støre said on his official Twitter account.
“The soldiers participated in NATO’s Cold Response exercise. Our deepest condolences go out to the soldiers’ families, loved ones and comrades in their unit,” he added.
The MV-22B Osprey aircraft, assigned to the US military unit II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), was “on a training mission Friday in Nordland County, northern Norway” with a crew of four , the Norwegian Armed Forces said.
The plane was spotted from a rescue helicopter and appears 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’ve been told is that it’s an American plane with Americans on board,” Eilertsen added.
The US Marine Corps said in a statement that the plane was taking part in NATO exercises when it was involved in an “incident”.
“While 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 teams must 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 demanding rescue operation,” Eilertsen said.
The aircraft was reported missing at 6:26 p.m. local time on Friday as it headed for the town of Bodø, located north of the Arctic Circle, Norway’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) said in a statement. .
The plane’s last known position was near Saltfjellet, a mountainous region in Nordland county, the statement added.
The Norwegian Security Investigation Authority and the National Criminal Investigation Service will arrive in Bodø on Saturday and begin their investigation at the city’s airport.
Due to bad weather, they will most likely travel to the crash site on Sunday, according to NRK.