One dead, seven missing after two Japanese military helicopters crash over Pacific Ocean

One dead, seven missing after two Japanese military helicopters crash over Pacific Ocean

Japan’s Defense Minister Minoru Kihara holds a press conference on Oct. 16, 2023. On Sunday, he announced that one crew member who was rescued following the crash of two military helicopters a day prior had died. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

April 21 (UPI) — One rescued crew member has died and seven others remained missing after two Japanese military helicopters seemingly crashed during a training exercise late Saturday over the Pacific Ocean, Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said.

The two Maritime Self-Defense Force SH-60 helicopters and their combined eight crew were conducting an anti-submarine warfare training exercise over the Pacific Ocean about 150 nautical miles east of the uninhibited Japanese island of Torishima when they lost communication at about 10:38 p.m. local time Saturday.

Search-and-rescue operations were launched, and one crew member was recovered. During a press conference Sunday, Kihara said the rescued crew member has died. The crew member’s body has since been transferred to Yokosuka Hospital where it will be autopsied.

“I would like to express my sincere condolences,” he said.

Kihara explained during an earlier press conference Sunday that a dozen ships and seven aircraft from the Maritime Self-Defense Force along with two vessels and one aircraft from the Japan Coast Guard have been deployed to the crash site in search of the missing seven crew members.

“We will continue to dedicate ourselves fully to the rescue of lives,” he said.

Flight recorders of the two aircraft have been recovered, he said, adding they were located in close proximity to each other.

“We will thoroughly investigate the cause of the crash, including the possibility of a collision between the two aircraft,” he said.

In response to the incident, all training flights involving Maritime Self-Defense Force SH-60 helicopters have been suspended.

Rahm Emanuel, U.S. ambassador to Japan, said the U.S. government has offered its assistance in the search-and-rescue operation.

“We will stand together, side by side, with our friend and ally, Japan,” he said on X. “My thoughts are with the crew members and their families and friends during this challenging time.”

The incident comes a little more than a year after a Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force UH-60JA multipurpose helicopter crashed off the coast of Miyako Island, killing all 10 crew members.  » …
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