Japan Army Helicopter Crashes In Residential Area


A Japanese army Apache attack helicopter crashed in western Japan on Monday sparking a fire in a residential area, Japan's defense minister said, reports.

Onodera said that in addition to a regular 50-hour inspection, the aircraft had its main rotor head, which connects to the blades, replaced before the flight.

The Defence Ministry said the co-pilot suffered heart and lung failure and was later pronounced dead, and the pilot was missing.

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"We are working hard to confirm the situation", Onodera told reporters in Tokyo.

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.

Multiple parts were found to have dropped from the AH-64D attack helicopter during the flight, according to the sources. It flew about 6 kilometers before crashing. Some residents in the area reported seeing the main rotor become detached in mid-air.

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The house the helicopter crashed into belongs to a family of four and was engulfed by flames after the impact. But no other injuries have been reported among local residents, police said.

Her grandmother was inside an adjacent house that was partially damaged by the fire, but she too escaped safely. The parents quietly sobbed during the meeting, according to local government officials.

"We are still searching for the 43-year-old pilot", the spokesman told the French Press Agency, retracting earlier remarks made by Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who said both crew members on board were retrieved "in a state of cardiac and respiratory arrest".

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The wreckage of the helicopter remains in the area of the gutted house.