Pupils of the Second Futenma Elementary School carry out an evacuation drill for a possible helicopter crash
July 13, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo
On July 12, an evacuation drill for a possible helicopter crash was carried out at the Second Futenma Elementary School, which is located next to the United States Marine Corps Air Station (USMCAS) Futenma. The children learned how to protect themselves from potential danger.
The school officials have been increasingly concerned about MV-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, which will be deployed at Futenma next year, and the possibility of accidents.
The same type of evacuation drill has been held at this school since 2000, as preparation for the possible crash of aircraft from Futenma Air Station into the playground.
During the drill the children evacuated quickly from the classrooms to a nearby children’s center or square while covering their mouths with handkerchiefs, on the assumption that a toxic substance may be loaded onto a crashed aircraft.
A UH-1 helicopter hovered around the school both before and after the drill.
Nine year-old Koji Uehara said, “The helicopters used to fly very close to the school. I don’t feel safe, because sometimes the helicopters sound like something is wrong.” Ten year-old Ria Nakazato also shared her feelings after the drill, saying “I hope that if an accident occurs I can get away safely like we did in the drill today.”
“Okinawa is the only place in Japan where schools carry out such drills in preparation for an aircraft crash. This really is quite unreasonable,” said school principal Harumi Chinen indignantly. “The government has indicated that the Osprey will be deployed. The situation for us just gets worse and worse. We want to be rid of these dangers as soon as we can,” said the principal.
(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey）
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