Rescuers were scanning waters off southern Japan to look for the deceased and survivors, if any.
The UH-60JA helicopter’s pieces seemed to be in the sea, according to Gen. Yasunori Morishita, chief of staff of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF), and rescuers are still looking for survivors.
CNN quoted Morishita as saying that two pilots, two mechanics, and six passengers are among the missing personnel, including Lt. Gen. Yuichi Sakamoto, a top GSDF commander.
According to a database maintained by the Aviation Safety Network, the crash would go down as the deadliest military aviation accident to occur in Japan since 1995 if no survivors are found.
Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force helicopter apparently went missing in waters off the southern prefecture of Okinawa on Thursday.
The helicopter disappeared from radar around 3:55 p.m. near Okinawa Prefecture’s Miyako Island, shortly after taking off from there to surveil nearby land features, according to the GSDF.
The chopper was originally scheduled to return to Miyako Island at 5:05 p.m.
According to a coast guard source, oil and objects including what could be part of a rotor blade were found in the sea area where the accident is believed to have occurred, reported Kyodo News.
Rough weather conditions were not reported around the time the helicopter went missing.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters in Tokyo, “We are putting maximum priority on human life and rescue operations.” (ANI)