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Okinawa Helicopter Crash: All 4 on US Rescue Chopper Survive

Image: Okinawa Helicopter Crash: All 4 on US Rescue Chopper Survive

Monday, 05 Aug 2013 11:01 AM

By Newsmax Wires

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All four crew members in a U.S. military helicopter crash on Monday at the Marine Corps' Camp Hansen in Okinawa survived, according to U.S. and Japanese officials.

The HH-60 rescue helicopter, which belongs to Okinawa's Kadena Air Base, was on an unspecified training mission when it crashed, a U.S. Air Force statement said.

Television footage showed smoke rising from a spot in the forest, with a mangled object that appeared to be the frame of the helicopter ablaze, the Associated Press reported.

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The U.S. statement said the cause of the crash was not known, and did not elaborate on the condition of the four crew members on board.

However, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters, citing information he had received, that three crew members ejected from the helicopter and the fourth was apparently injured and taken to hospital.

Onodera said the accident was "regrettable" and that he was asking the U.S. to provide information promptly, conduct a thorough investigation and take preventive measures.

Okinawan prefectural police said there were no reports of injuries or damage outside the base.

The crash comes amid strong local opposition to the U.S. Marine Corps' additional deployment of 12 MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft on the island. About half of the 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan are based on Okinawa under a Japan-U.S. security pact.

Anti-U.S. military sentiment on the island is a longstanding issue, and many residents have complained about base-related crime, noise and accidents.

"We knew it was going to happen sooner or later," said Kadena Mayor Hiroshi Toyama, referring to Monday's crash.

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According to Okinawa media, the helicopter crash was reminiscent of a 2004 accident involving a CH-53 helicopter from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma which collided with a nearby university building.
Though the crew survived and there were no civilian injuries in the 2004 crash, the incident prompted massive anti-base protests at the time.

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