9 dead in Japan chopper crash

Tokyo, Aug 11 : A Japanese government helicopter has crashed in the mountains of Gunma. All nine crew members on board have been confirmed dead, police said on Saturday.

Two of the crew members were declared dead on Friday just after the crash, while seven more were confirmed dead on Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the authorities, the helicopter — part of the regional disaster prevention team — was out to observe a hiking trail, which spans Gunma, Nagano and Niigata prefectures, when contact with the air traffic control was lost around 10 a.m. on Friday.

It was being flown by an experienced pilot who had logged many flying hours. The transport ministry said the Bell 412EP helicopter had begun operations in May 1997, clocking up around 7,000 flight hours.

The same model of helicopter crashed in March 2017 killing all nine occupants and again in November that year killing four people aboard.

A Transport Safety Board investigation is on.

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