Tokyo, Apr 7 (EFE).- Objects have been found that are believed to belong to a Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (GDSF) helicopter that went missing, but there is no sign so far of the 10 crew members on board, authorities said Friday.
The UH-60JA utility helicopter disappeared from radar around 3.56 pm local time (06:55 GMT) on Thursday near Okinawa’s Miyako Island shortly after take-off.
The Coast Guard said a patrol boat search found a folded-up lifeboat with the words “Ground Self-Defense Force” written on it, according to state broadcaster NHK on Friday.
Also found in the waters north of Irabu Island, near Miyako Island, was a window frame and objects including what could be part of a rotor blade.
The search continued Friday for the helicopter and its crew.
“We’ve been searching the area around the scene all night, but the ten people who were on board are still missing and have not been found,” Defense Minister Yasukasu Hamada told reporters Friday.
“We will continue to collect damage information and search for human lives.”
Among those on board is Gen. Yuichi Sakamoto, a 55-year-old commander of the GSDF 8th Division, which the helicopter belongs to.
It had been scheduled to take off from the Miyako Sub Base at 3.46pm to check the surrounding terrain and land back at the same base about 20 minutes later, but disappeared from radar during the flight.
In 2016, six people were killed after an Air Self-Defense Force U-125 flight inspection plane crashed on a mountain in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima. EFE