10 aboard a Japanese army helicopter are feared dead in a crash : NPR
Kyodo News via AP
TOKYO — A missing Japanese army helicopter carrying 10 crew members is believed to have crashed into the sea off a southern island after objects that appear to be aircraft parts were seen in the area, an official said. -Thursday.
The UH-60JA Black Hawk helicopter disappeared from radar Thursday afternoon while on a reconnaissance mission north of Miyako island, Ground Self Defense Force chief Yasunori Morishita said in news conference.
He said debris that is aircraft parts was found in the area, about 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
The government is aggressively building up its defense capability in southwestern Japan in response to China’s increasingly assertive military activity in the region, including Taiwan.
Kyodo News said Japanese coast guard ships also found traces of oil that may be related to the missing helicopter, but officials declined to confirm the report.
Morishita said the helicopter was stationed at a major regional army base in Kumamoto prefecture on the southern main island of Kyushu, and one of its 10 crew members is the commander of -division, Yuichi Sakamoto.
Morishita said the helicopter disappeared from radar earlier than previously thought.
Public broadcaster NHK earlier said the helicopter disappeared from radar about an hour after it left Miyako island and about half an hour before its scheduled return.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that the Ministry of Defense is investigating.