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One crew dead, another missing in Japan army helicopter crash

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Tokyo: One crew member was confirmed dead and another was missing today after a Japanese military helicopter crashed in a residential area in the southwest of the country, reportedly injuring a local girl and setting a home on fire.

A 26-year-old co-pilot was found unconscious following the crash in the town of Kanzaki and later confirmed dead, a defence ministry spokesman said. "We are still searching for the 43-year-old pilot," the spokesman told AFP, retracting earlier remarks made by Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who said both crew members on board were retrieved "in a state of cardiac and respiratory arrest."

That language is often used by Japanese officials before deaths are officially confirmed. Quoting local fire department officials, the Asahi Shimbun daily said an 11-year-old girl who was in the house when the helicopter crashed was sent to hospital after injuring her knee.

Immediate confirmation of the report was not available.

Japan's NHK television showed a thick plume of grey smoke rising from the site of the crash in between the rooftops of local houses, some 300 metres (1,000 feet) away from an elementary school.

Local firefighters could be seen running through the streets with red fire hoses as people were evacuated from the area. "I heard something like a rumbling of the earth," a woman living near the crash site told NHK. "I rushed out there and saw a blaze and black smoke. It's impossible that this happens in such a place." Onodera earlier told reporters the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter had gone down in Japan's Saga region and "burst into flames".

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