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Japan Navy helicopters crash in deadly Pacific incident

Japan Navy helicopters crash in deadly Pacific incident

Japan Navy helicopters crash in deadly Pacific incident

Japan Navy helicopters crash in deadly Pacific incident

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  • One Japanese naval crewman died and seven others went missing during a night-time drill in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Two helicopters, twin-engine Mitsubishi SH-60Ks, were conducting anti-submarine training near the Izu Islands.
  • Search teams discovered debris, including parts of rotor blades and two flight recorders, close to each other.
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During a night-time drill in the Pacific Ocean, one Japanese naval crewman died and seven others went missing after two helicopters crashed. Officials reported that the twin-engine Mitsubishi SH-60Ks were conducting anti-submarine training near the Izu Islands, 600km (372 miles) south of Tokyo.

Search teams discovered debris, including parts of rotor blades, as well as two flight recorders, close to each other.

Defense Minister Minoru Kihara stated that the cause of the accident was unknown. “Firstly, we do our best to save lives,” Mr. Kihara said, adding that the helicopters were “conducting drills to counter submarines at night.”

A crew member was rescued from the waters but was later confirmed to have died. Broadcaster NHK reports that communication with one helicopter was lost at 22:38 local time (14:38 BST) off the island of Torishima.

One minute later, authorities received an emergency signal from this aircraft. After 25 minutes, the military realized they had lost communication with the other aircraft, also a Mitsubishi SH-60K, in the same area. The Mitsubishi SH-60K helicopters, based on the Sikorsky Seahawk, primarily operate from naval destroyers.

The navy stated that, as there were no other aircraft or vessels in nearby waters, the involvement of another country in the incident was unlikely. Japan is boosting defense spending and deepening cooperation with the US and other countries in Asia in response to growing Chinese assertiveness in the Taiwanese region. In April 2023, a Japanese army helicopter with 10 people on board crashed off Miyako island in southern Okinawa.

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The UH60 helicopter, known as a Black Hawk, had been surveying the local area at the time it disappeared. Among those on the flight was Lieutenant General Yuichi Sakamoto, a senior Ground Self-Defense Force commander. Unfortunately, there were no survivors.

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