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No abnormal flight data from missing MSDF helicopters east of Torishima Island; The Minister of Defense states that the cause of the probable crash is still unknown

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Defense Minister Minoru Kihara, second from right, and MSDF Chief of Staff Admiral Ryo Sakai, right, hold a press conference on Monday following the crash of two MSDF helicopters at the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo.

Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said Monday that the flight data recorders of the Maritime Self-Defense Force SH-60K patrol helicopters recovered after their apparent crash over waters east of the Izu island chain “have no data that would indicate anything was wrong was on the plane in flight at this time.” The MSDF is analyzing the data in more detail to determine the cause of the accident.

The FDR is a device that records the movements of aircraft. Kihara said at the news conference that “we were able to safely retrieve the data” from the two FDRs. The Ministry of Defense believes that the two helicopters most likely collided in mid-air, but Kihara limited himself to saying that the cause could be “several things”.

The MSDF Accident Investigation Committee is also interviewing crew members of another helicopter involved in the exercise at the site, along with the two that crashed.

The accident occurred over water about 280 kilometers east of Torishima Island, part of the Izu Island chain. That part of the sea has a depth of 5,500 meters. Several pieces of wreckage, including blades from the two helicopters and several helmets, were recovered from the area.

MSDF Chief of Staff Admiral Ryo Sakai said at a news conference that he believed most of the aircraft had sunk to the bottom of the sea and that he would attempt to locate them using MSDF oceanographic observation ships.

Eight people were on board the two planes, one of whom was found dead after being rescued, and seven others are still missing. The Self-Defense Forces and the Japanese Coast Guard continued their search Monday with about 10 ships and five aircraft.

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