Kadena helicopter crashes at Central Training Area
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.