• Kyodo


For the second time in three days, a Toho Air Service Co. helicopter crashed Monday in the mountains of central Japan.

The chopper had transported food and other items to a remote lodge on Mount Okuhodaka on the border of Gifu and Nagano prefectures and was about to carry away a snow-removal vehicle when it apparently lost control and struck the structure, breaking up on impact, police said.

Pilot Osamu Sekine, 58, suffered only minor injuries to his left leg and head, police said.

On Saturday, a Toho Air Service chopper crashed on a mountain in Nakatsugawa, Gifu Prefecture, killing its pilot.

Sekine’s helicopter was hovering over the mountain lodge at around 6:50 a.m. Monday preparing to lift the snow-removal vehicle, but when the vehicle started to come up, the helicopter appeared to lose control and went down, police said.

Witnesses said the sky was clear, but a strong wind was blowing at the time.

Police said Sekine had more than 30 years of helicopter experience and thus doubted he was unable to compensate for the wind.

The transport ministry dispatched investigators to the crash site later in the day.

Following Monday’s crash, Toho Air Service Co., a Tokyo-based cargo-shipping firm that mainly uses helicopters, released a statement saying, “These two successive accidents should never have happened, and we are taking this fact seriously.”

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