A U.S. military V-22 Osprey aircraft crashed into the ocean in western Japan on Wednesday with eight people onboard, Japan's coast guard said.

A spokesperson for the coast guard said it had no further details of the incident near Japan's Yakushima island, including the status of those onboard.

A spokesperson for U.S. forces in the region said they were still gathering information about the incident.

The crash happened about 2:47 p.m. local time (0547 GMT, with witnesses saying the aircraft's left engine appeared to be on fire as the aircraft descended toward the sea, Japanese broadcaster MBC reported.

In August, a U.S. Osprey crashed off the coast of northern Australia

while transporting troops during a routine military exercise, killing three U.S. Marines.

Another crash-landed in the ocean off Japan's southern island of Okinawa in December 2016, prompting a temporary U.S. military grounding of the aircraft.

The tilt-rotor plane, which can fly both like a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft, is operated by the U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy and the Japan Self Defense Forces.

The deployment of the Osprey in Japan has been controversial, with critics saying the hybrid aircraft is prone to accidents. The U.S. military and Japan say it is safe. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Satoshi Sugiyama and Tim Kelly; Writing by John Geddie; Editing by David Dolan and Gerry Doyle)