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COA News 2024

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Two Japanese Navy helicopters crash in the Pacific Ocean during training, leaving one dead and seven missing

Two Japanese navy helicopters carrying eight crew members crashed in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo during a night training flight after possibly colliding with each other, the country’s defense minister said Sunday. One crew member recovered from the water was later pronounced dead, while rescuers searched for seven others who were still missing.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force’s two SH-60K helicopters each carried four crew members and lost contact late Saturday near Torishima Island, about 600 kilometers south of Tokyo, Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but officials believe the two helicopters “very likely” collided before hitting the water, Kihara said.

He added that his ministry will suspend training flights for all SH-60s for the time being.

Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Ryo Sakai said training will be suspended until the cause of the accident is determined and preventive measures are taken.

Rescuers found a flight data recorder, a knife from each helicopter and fragments believed to be from both helicopters in the same area, indicating the two SH-60Ks flew close to each other, Kihara said. Officials will analyze the flight data to try to determine what led to the crash.

Search and rescue efforts for the missing crew were expanded on Sunday, with the MSDF and the Air Self-Defense Force jointly deploying 12 warships and seven aircraft. Japanese Coast Guard patrol boats and aircraft also took part in the operation.

One helicopter belonged to an air base in Nagasaki and the other to a base in Tokushima Prefecture.

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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