An unused lifeboat, doors and other debris believed to be from a Japanese military helicopter were found after a Black Hawk with a crew of 10 was believed to have crashed into the sea a day earlier, officials said Friday (April 7).
Unable to hold back tears, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters Friday that the missing crew was not found while the search continued.
He said he took the accident seriously. Hamada added, “We will do our best to rescue the 10 people who are still missing and continue to collect information on the extent of the damage.”
The UH-60JA troop transport, commonly known as the Black Hawk, disappeared Thursday afternoon while on a reconnaissance mission over an island in southern Japan, according to Yasunori Morishita, commander-in-chief of the Ground Self-Defense Force.
It disappeared from radar just 10 minutes after departing from the Ground Self-Defense Force base on Miyako Island and is believed to have crashed into the sea between Miyako and nearby Irabu Island to the northwest.
This area is about 1,800 km southwest of Tokyo.
Coast Guard patrol boats found a door believed to be an unused lifeboat-like aircraft with a serial number matching the missing helicopter near the crash site, army officials said.
Japan is aggressively strengthening its defenses in the southwestern islands in response to China’s increasingly aggressive military activities in the region, including near Taiwan.
Morishita said helicopters were stationed at a key army base in Kumamoto Prefecture in southern Japan’s Kyushu on Thursday night.
One of the 10 crew members is division commander Yuichi Sakamoto.
The Army said the helicopters underwent regular safety inspections in late March.