One dead, seven missing after two Japan navy helicopters crash

    A search operation is underway after the SH-60 patrol helicopters possibly collided with each other during an antisubmarine exercise off Izu Islands.

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    Two Japanese navy helicopters carrying eight crew members crashed into the Pacific Ocean during a night-time training exercise. The accident occurred after possibly colliding with each other, killing one person, the defence minister said on Sunday.

    Rescuers on Sunday searched for seven others who were still missing.

    The two SH-60 patrol helicopters were conducting antisubmarine exercises on Saturday night. Exercises are held near Torishima in the remote Izu island group, off the southern coast of central Japan.

    Defence Minister Minoru Kihara said rescuers “spotted what are 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 told reporters. Hours later, Kihara told reporters that the crew member who was rescued “was confirmed dead”.

    Kihara also said the ministry “discovered the flight recorders in places close to each other.” He also continued that the “possibility is high that they collided”.

    “The flight recorders are being analysed,” Chief of Staff Ryo Sakai of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) told reporters. The officials are interviewing the crew of a third helicopter that joined the drill but was not involved in the accident.


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