National

MSDF chopper goes down off Aomori; three missing

Kyodo

Three Japanese servicemen are missing after a Maritime Self-Defense Force chopper apparently crashed late Saturday off Aomori Prefecture.

One of the four crew members aboard the helicopter was rescued 40 minutes after the MSDF lost contact with the SH-60J patrol chopper but is not in a life-threatening condition, MSDF officials said.

Contact with the helicopter was lost at around 10:50 p.m. while it was engaged in landing-and-takeoff drills with MSDF vessels over the Sea of Japan, about 90 km west-southwest of Cape Tappi.

The MSDF has recovered the helicopter’s flight recorder and is continuing to hunt for the missing troops.

“We will make an all-out effort to rescue” the three, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters, apologizing for the incident.

Satellite and weather radar images from the Meteorological Agency showed no rain clouds in the area at the time of the accident.

The helicopter is based at the MSDF’s Ominato Base in Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture.