• Kyodo

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A helicopter crashed into the sea near Matsuyama on Sunday morning, killing two people on board, Japan Coast Guard officials said.

The two people are believed to be Akio Eto, the 52-year-old pilot from Owariasahi, Aichi Prefecture, and his passenger Noriyuki Ikeda, 38, from Ichinomiya in the same prefecture, the officials said.

The Robinson R-44, owned by Eto, left a heliport in Kushira, Kagoshima Prefecture, early Sunday morning. It was to arrive at Matsuyama airport at 9:45 a.m., airport officials said, but lost radio contact at around 9:05 a.m.

The helicopter was believed to be flying off Nagahama, Ehime Prefecture, when radio contact was lost.

Ehime Prefectural Police searched the area and found the helicopter wreckage and two people drifting on the sea around 11:20 a.m. , about 14 km off Matsuyama.

The two were pronounced dead at a hospital.

The 11.58-meter-long Robinson R-44 seats four and is popular for personal use.

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