People who knew the nine men killed in a rescue helicopter crash Sunday during a drill in Nagano Prefecture expressed painful feelings after desperately hoping for their survival.

A close family friend of the chopper's mechanic, Ryota Shimizu, 45, said Monday he felt saddened after hearing that Shimizu was one of those killed in the accident, leaving a wife and two children.

"I continued watching the news, hoping that he would be safe because his children are still young," said Kazuaki Yamagishi, 69, who lives next door.