Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's submarine rescue ship Chihaya (L) and other vessel during a search and rescue operation for a missing Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force's helicopter UH-60JA carrying 10 personnel off Irabu Island, southwestern Japan, 16 April 2023. EFE/EPA/JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/

2 bodies fished out of sea days after Japan military chopper crash

Tokyo, Apr 17 (EFE).- Two people from the Japan military helicopter that went missing on Apr. 6 with 10 Ground Self-Defense Force personnel on board in the Okinawa archipelago have been confirmed dead, defense sources said Monday.

The two people were found on Sunday after a deep-water dive, in the first official announcement of deaths since the accident, defense sources confirmed to EFE, adding that search activities will continue Monday.

A total of six planes, five ships and 380 people are working on search tasks in order to find the rest of the missing and to be able to remove the fuselage from the seabed to continue with the investigation.

The authorities also found three other bodies on Sunday, although they have not confirmed if they were crew of the crashed helicopter.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also confirmed this information Monday and expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased personnel and said his government will increase efforts to determine the cause of the accident.

The helicopter dropped off the radar on Apr. 6 when it was about 3 kilometers north of the island of Irabu, southwest of Japan.

It is believed that the helicopter suffered an accident, although the exact cause is unknown as Defense says it is necessary to access the submerged machine to investigate further.

Neither of the two air traffic control centers in the area received a distress signal from the helicopter’s emergency locator transmitter, which is designed to activate automatically upon impact.

The helicopter also underwent a special inspection at the end of March, in which no abnormalities were detected. EFE