SEOUL – South Korean rescuers retrieved two bodies believed to be among the seven that went missing after their chopper crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from islets disputed with Japan, officials said Sunday.
The helicopter had just picked up an injured fisherman from Dokdo, which is known as Takeshima in Japan, when it went down on Thursday night.
Three bodies had been located Saturday, including one found inside the crashed chopper sitting upside down on the seabed at a depth of 72 meters (240 feet).
Two of those bodies, both male, have been retrieved, the coast guard said Sunday, adding that one was believed to be a fireman but it was still trying to identify the pair.
Dozens of divers were scouring the waters, authorities said, with navy and coast guard vessels as well as helicopters and airplanes mobilized for the search.
Seoul has controlled the islets in the Sea of Japan — or East Sea — since 1945, when Tokyo’s colonial rule on the peninsula ended, while Japan still claims sovereignty over them.