Five bodies, wreckage found in Japan helicopter crash search


Japan’s army found wreckage and five bodies Sunday during a deep-sea search for crew on board a helicopter that disappeared from radar earlier this month, an army spokesman said.

The aircraft with 10 people on board had been on a reconnaissance mission when it went missing on April 6, in what the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) described as an “aerial accident”.

Two pilots, two mechanics and six crew members were on board the UH-60JA, including a GSDF general from the 8th division.

The newly found wreckage appeared to be from the missing helicopter, but there were no details yet on the identities of the bodies retrieved, the army spokesman said.

“There are still five left undiscovered, so search and rescue operations are underway simultaneously,” the spokesman told AFP.

Coastguard rescuers had already discovered several pieces of debris that appeared to be from the helicopter, including a door, a snapped blade and a yellow life raft that was still packed inside a bag.

There has been no indication of what caused the apparent accident.

Japan’s military, which is limited to ostensibly defensive activity by the country’s post-war constitution, has seen occasional accidents.

In January 2022, a Japanese fighter jet crashed in waters off central Ishikawa region, killing two pilots on board.

And in 2019, an F-35A stealth jet crashed into the sea, after taking off from northeastern Japan on a training mission. The accident sparked a scramble to recover the pilot and secrets on board.

Japan’s defence ministry subsequently said the pilot, who died in the crash, appeared to have suffered spatial disorientation.


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