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Debris from missing F-35 fighter jet found in rural South Carolina

The pilot had ejected from the plane Sunday but the plane had been missing.

WILLIAMSBURG COUNTY, S.C. — The U.S. military says parts of a F-35 fighter jet that had gone missing over South Carolina Sunday have been found. 

Joint Base Charleston said Monday night that a debris field had been found in Williamsburg County. That's in an area about two hours northeast of the military base. They did not provide further details citing a need to protect the integrity of the investigation. 

Members of the public are advised to avoid the area where crews are continuing their recovery efforts.

"We would like to thank all of our mission partners, as well as local, county, and state authorities, for their dedication and support throughout the search and as we transition to the recovery phase," the base said in a statement. 

The pilot, whose name hasn't been released, parachuted to safety into a North Charleston neighborhood at around 2 p.m. Sunday. He was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition, Marines Maj. Melanie Salinas said Sunday.

Cpl. Christian Cortez, a Marine with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, said there was a mishap involving an F-35B Lightning II jet. Exactly what happened was under investigation, he said.

A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division helicopter joined the search after some bad weather cleared in the area, Stanton said. Military officials appealed in online posts Sunday for any help from the public in locating the aircraft.

The pilot of a second F-35 returned safely to Joint Base Charleston, Salinas said.

The planes and pilots were with the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing based in Beaufort, near the South Carolina coast.

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