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Business News/ News / World/  Two Japanese military helicopters crash at sea; one dead, seven missing
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Two Japanese military helicopters crash at sea; one dead, seven missing

A Japan Self-Defense Force (SDF) spokesperson told AFP that one person was rescued and seven are missing after an accident at sea between two of the country's military helicopters.

File photo: Contact was lost with two Japanese navy SH-60K choppers carrying eight crewmembers, believed to have crashed in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo during a night-time training exercise, and rescuers were searching for the missing, Japan’s defence minister said. (AP Photo / Emily Wang)Premium
File photo: Contact was lost with two Japanese navy SH-60K choppers carrying eight crewmembers, believed to have crashed in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo during a night-time training exercise, and rescuers were searching for the missing, Japan’s defence minister said. (AP Photo / Emily Wang)

One person has died and seven are missing after two Japanese military helicopters crashed overnight at sea, the country's defence ministry said on April 21, Reuters reported. A spokesperson for Japan's Self-Defense Force (SDF) had earlier today confirmed the incident to AFP, adding that one person was rescued. This person has now been pronounced dead, as per PTI.

Giving details, Japan's Defence Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters that rescuers located what they believe to be parts of the aircraft in the sea.

"Rescuers spotted what is believed to be part of the aircraft in the sea, and we believe that the two helicopters crashed. At this point the cause is unknown, but firstly we do our best to save lives," Kihara said. He added that the helicopters were "doing drills to counter submarines at night".

What Do We Know?

The helicopters were engaged in night-time drills to counter submarines when the incident occurred off the Izu Islands in the Pacific Ocean, as reported by Japanese national broadcaster NHK.

Communication with one helicopter was lost at 10:38 pm (1338 GMT) off the island of Torishima. A minute later, an emergency signal was received from this aircraft. Approximately 25 minutes later, around 11:04 pm, communication was lost with the second helicopter in the same area, as NHK reports.

The Mitsubishi SH-60K helicopters involved in the crash are operated by the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) primarily on and from naval destroyers.

The MSDF noted that there were no other aircraft or vessels in the nearby waters, making the involvement of another country unlikely. Japan's increased defence spending and cooperation with allies in response to regional tensions, particularly from China and North Korea, have been noted in recent years.

Similar Incidents in Japan

The recent crash echoes previous accidents involving Japanese military aircraft.

A US Osprey military aircraft crashed off Japan in November, resulting in the death of all eight onboard and the subsequent grounding of similar aircraft by both the United States and Japan.

Last April, a Japanese army UH-60JA helicopter with 10 onboard crashed off Miyako Island (south Okinawa), resulting in no survivors.

In January 2022, a Japanese fighter jet crashed off the central Ishikawa region, claiming the lives of two pilots. Additionally, in 2019, the pilot was killed after an F-35A stealth jet crashed into the sea after takeoff from northeastern Japan during a training mission.

(With inputs from AFP, Reuters and PTI)

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Published: 21 Apr 2024, 06:46 AM IST
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