The Daily Manila Shimbun


3 die in helicopter crash in central Japan mountain

March 6, 2017

Nagano- A Nagano prefectural government helicopter with nine people aboard crashed in Mount Hachibuse in the central Japan prefecture on Sunday, leaving at least three dead.

Three of the nine prefectural government workers were confirmed dead after being found in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest, according to prefectural government and other sources. Two others were found under the helicopter but they did not respond to calls. Rescue workers struggled in waist-deep snow, and their operations were suspended in the evening, the sources said. Shortly past 3 p.m. (6 a.m. GMT), local authorities received a report that a crashed helicopter can be seen in the 1,929-meter-tall mountain, which straddles the Nagano Prefecture cities of Matsumoto and Okaya. The prefectural police visually confirmed the crashed helicopter about 10 minutes later.

The helicopter for firefighting and rescue operations left Shinshu Matsumoto Airport in Matsumoto around 1:30 p.m. for training, carrying the pilot, a mechanic and seven firefighters. The crew was scheduled to conduct a roping drill at a nearby mountain and return to the airport shortly after 3 p.m. The pilot was a veteran and mainly engaged in rescue operations in mountain areas, the sources said. The helicopter, capable of carrying up to 15 people, entered into service in 1997 and passed a regular maintenance inspection only last month. The three people confirmed dead include firefighters Naoto Ikuma, 35, of Matsumoto and Michiaki Koda, 40, of Ueda, also Nagano Prefecture. The Japan Transport Safety Board will send three investigators to the crash site. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency's Nagano local office, the prefecture had fine weather in the morning with thin clouds seen in the afternoon. No strong winds were observed. Jiji Press