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VCO
08-07-2013, 07:07 AM
CAMP LESTER, Okinawa -- An Air Force helicopter crashed during exercises at a U.S. military base on Okinawa on Monday, causing a smoke cloud that could be seen by Japanese residents nearby, according to the Air Force and Japanese officials.

The HH-60 Pave Hawk, which is assigned to Kadena Air Base, was carrying four people on board when it went down at around 4 p.m. at the Central Training Area near Camp Hansen, the air base public affairs office said.

United States fire-and-rescue crews were at the scene, but the Air Force said the status of those on board the helicopter was still unclear late Monday.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters he was told three of the four crew members on board survived, with a fourth person missing, The Associated Press reported. He said no other details, including the condition of the crew members, were immediately known.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. The service said more details will be released as they become available.

The Okinawa bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Defense said it was notified of the crash but had no further details late Monday. The Okinawa prefectural government also said it could not confirm any details of the crash.

The 33rd Rescue Squadron uses the HH-60 Pave Hawks during its rescue missions in the region.

About 2 miles from the training area in the city of Ginoza residents said they could see smoke rising from the crash.

“We saw black smoke coming out of Hansen at about 4:05 p.m. and white smoke is still coming out," Ginoza resident Ryoko Akamine said at around 6:30 p.m.

She said no one saw the crash and there is no report of injuries to Japanese residents.

The village is waiting for more information from the defense ministry, she said.

RFScott
08-07-2013, 01:09 PM
Unfortunately the remains of the last crew member were recovered from the crash site yesterday :( Here is an updated article from Stars and Stripes:

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Human remains were recovered around noon Tuesday from a helicopter crash site on Camp Hansen, according to an Air Force release.

The remains had not yet been identified, but U.S. search-and-rescue crews had been looking for a missing airman after an HH-60 Pave Hawk crashed and burned in a forest on the base, creating a smoke cloud that could be seen for miles.

The helicopter’s other three crew members were found Monday and are in stable condition at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, according to the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, where the chopper was stationed.

Following the crash, the Japan Ministry of Defense asked U.S. Forces Japan to ground all HH-60s, the Air Force variant of the Black Hawk that is used by the 33rd Rescue Squadron during rescue missions in the region.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera made the request until an investigation determines the cause of the crash, a ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

About two miles from the training area, in the city of Ginoza, residents said they could see smoke rising for hours after the late-afternoon incident. Japanese media posted images and video shot from the air that show a burning, blackened crash site amid heavy vegetation.

Ginoza resident Ryoko Akamine said no one there saw the crash. There were no reports of injuries to Japanese residents.

The crash came just two days after a second squadron of Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey began arriving on Okinawa amid public concerns over safety. The Marine Corps issued a statement saying it will delay the controversial deployment “out of respect for the desires of our Japanese partners and hosts.”