• Kyodo

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Four people died when a chartered news helicopter crashed and burst into flames Sunday on the banks of the Kiso River in southern Nagano Prefecture, local police said.

The helicopter, owned by Nakanihon Air Service Co. and chartered by Shinetsu Broadcasting Corp. based in Nagano city, was covering a traffic accident in the town of Nagiso when the accident occurred at around 10 a.m., police officials said.

Shinetsu Broadcasting confirmed the deaths of reporter Shina Miyoshi, 26, cameraman Kaneshige Ikeda, 38, pilot Hiroyoshi Suzuki, 53, and mechanic Hideaki Komuro, 56.

Witnesses were quoted as telling police the helicopter hit some electric wires.

The craft took off from a heliport in Nagano shortly after 9 a.m. and was scheduled to fly for about two hours, officials at the broadcaster said.

Suzuki was a veteran helicopter pilot with about 5,500 hours of flight experience, according to Nakanihon Air Service officials.

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