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One dead, seven missing in Japanese navy helicopter crash

  • Japanese navy helicopters collide, one dead, seven missing
  • Flight data indicates probable midair collision; search operation underway
  • Investigation ongoing; training halted until cause determined

As the investigation into the cause of the accident continues, officials conclude that a collision between the two aircraft is “highly probable” based on the discovery of flight recorders and detritus from both aircraft in the same area.

A potential midair collision between two Japanese navy helicopters during a nighttime training flight into the Pacific Ocean has resulted in the deaths of at least one of the eight crew members aboard.

A single body was recovered from the water and subsequently identified as deceased; seven others remain missing. A search operation is currently underway to locate them.

Late on Saturday, two SH-60K patrol aircraft, each with four crew members, lost communication near the island of Torishima, located approximately 370 miles (600 km) to the south of Tokyo.

Although an investigation is ongoing into the cause of the accident, authorities believe it is “extremely probable” that the two helicopters collided before sinking into the water.

According to Defence Minister Minoru Kihara, the discovery of flight recorders and detritus from both aircraft in the same vicinity suggests that they were nearby during their flights.

Additionally, he reported hearing only one distress call, which further indicated the proximity of the two helicopters due to the indistinguishable nature of their signals on the same frequency.

The flight data will be analyzed by officials to ascertain the cause of the disaster.

Until the cause of the disaster is determined, training will be halted, according to Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Ryo Sakai.

The military increased its search and rescue operations for the missing personnel by twelve warships and seven aircraft on Sunday.

Additionally, aircraft and Coastguard patrol vessels joined the operation.

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One helicopter was stationed in Tokushima, and the other was located in Nagasaki.

Although its primary function is anti-submarine warfare aboard destroyers, the SH-60K is also utilized for search and rescue operations and other endeavors.

Japan possesses approximately seventy of these aircraft.

To counter the threat posed by China, Japan has been bolstering its armed forces in the southwestern Japanese islands in the Pacific and East China Sea through its 2022 security strategy.

Saturday’s training, according to the navy chief of staff, was a routine anti-submarine warfare exercise involving warships and submarines as well.

The accident occurred one year after an engine failure caused a Blackhawk helicopter of the Japanese Defence Force to crash off the southwestern Japanese island of Miyako, killing all ten crew members.

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