Vehicle Accident in Japan on March 06 2017 07:32 AM (UTC).
All nine members of a rescue squad aboard a helicopter which crashed during a drill in Nagano Prefecture over the weekend have died, it was confirmed Monday. The final six members of the team, who were found Monday morning, were confirmed dead later in the day. Three members were confirmed dead following the crash Sunday on a snowy mountain in Nagano Prefecture. Local police identified five of the nine. They were pilot Masaji Iwata, 56, and firefighters Naoto Ikuma, 35, Michiaki Koda, 40, Wataru Ito, 35, and Noritoshi Takashima, 37. Iwata, who joined the Nagano Disaster Prevention Air Corps in 1997, was a veteran with over 5,100 flight hours. Rescuers resumed searching for survivors at around 8 a.m. Monday and recovered the bodies of two other crew members who had been seen Sunday trapped in the wreckage. They also found the bodies of four more underneath the aircraft. A team of about 100 people were deployed by police, firefighters and the Self-Defense Forces to take part in the search. The downed chopper, a Bell 412EP operated by the Nagano Prefectural Government, was carrying seven firefighters, a pilot and a mechanic, all male, according to the prefectural government. They were scheduled to conduct a drill for saving mountain climbers with members of the team descending from the helicopter using ropes. Investigators from the Japan Transport Safety Board, an arm of the transport ministry, will look into the cause of the crash after conducting an on-site inspection. The helicopter took off from Matsumoto airport in Nagano at around 1:30 p.m. Sunday and, according to a flight plan filed with the ministry, was scheduled to land at a heliport on the Takabocchi plateau in Shiojiri at 1:53 p.m. The helicopter failed to make radio contact as scheduled upon landing, prompting the prefectural government to request a police search around 2:37 p.m. The helicopter was found crashed near 1,929-meter Mount Hachibuse, which straddles Matsumoto and Okaya, around 3:10 p.m. Sunday. A local weather office has said weather conditions at the time did not appear to have affected the flight. The helicopter took off with sufficient fuel to continue flying for around 90 minutes, and no signs of abnormality in the aircraft were detected before takeoff, according to the transport ministry and the prefectural government.