Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Two bodies of missing crew members of MSDF SH-60J helicopter crash found



The bodies of two people, believed to be those of missing crew members from a Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol helicopter that crashed in waters off the city of Nagasaki, were found Wednesday.The helicopter was located on the seabed at a depth of around 100 meters. An underwater camera showed an image of what appeared to be the body of one of the crew members inside the chopper, according to the Defense Ministry. Another body was later discovered about 16 meters from the submerged craft.

The bodies are believed to be those of the flight navigator, Petty Officer Second Class Chiaki Asai, 41, and the copilot, Petty Officer First Class Hiroyuki Senba, 24. The pilot, Cmdr. Kunihiko Kitajima, 39, was rescued.The SH-60J helicopter carrying the three MSDF officers disappeared from radar Tuesday evening while on a training flight over the sea. The helicopter flight originated at the MSDF's Omura base in Omura, Nagasaki Prefecture, around 5:35 p.m. Tuesday, according to the ministry.

Another MSDF helicopter also holding a training drill received a distress call from the first chopper around 7:40 p.m. The second helicopter found Kitajima and rescued him from the sea at about 8:35 p.m. Kitajima's right hand was injured, but he was conscious. The coast guard said a patrol boat discovered an empty life raft and a rotary wing of the helicopter 25 km west of the Iojima Island lighthouse in Nagasaki Prefecture.

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