1 dead and 7 missing after two Japanese military helicopters crashed

One person was killed and seven went missing after two Japanese military helicopters crashed at sea overnight, the country’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday (April 21), Reuters reported.

A spokesperson for the Japan Self-Defense Force (SDF) had confirmed the incident to AFP earlier today, adding that one person had been rescued. This person has now been declared dead, according to PTI.

Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters that rescuers found parts of the plane in the sea.

“Rescuers spotted what is believed to be part of the aircraft in the sea and we believe the two helicopters have crashed. At this time the cause is unknown, but first we are doing our best to save lives,” said Kihara. He added that the helicopters were “conducting anti-submarine exercises at night.”

The helicopters were conducting night-time anti-submarine exercises when the incident occurred off the Izu Islands in the Pacific Ocean, Japan’s national broadcaster NHK reported.

Communications with one helicopter were lost off Torishima island at 10:38 PM (1338 GMT). A minute later a distress signal was received from this aircraft. About 25 minutes later, at around 11:04 p.m., communication with the second helicopter in the same area was lost, NHK reported.

The Mitsubishi SH-60K helicopters involved in the crash are operated by the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), primarily on and from naval destroyers.

The MSDF noted that there were no other aircraft or ships in nearby waters, making the involvement of another country unlikely. In recent years, Japan’s increased defense spending and cooperation with allies have been noted in response to regional tensions, especially from China and North Korea.

(With input from agencies)