U.S. military helicopter crashes in training area near village

U.S. military helicopter crashes in training area near village

At 4:00 p.m. on August 5, after the crash, white smoke rises from the wreck of the U.S. Air Force helicopter in the Central Training Area, Ginoza. (Photograph taken by Takuya Kayo)


August 6, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

At 4:00 p.m. on August 5, a Kadena-based HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in flames in the Central Training Area near Camp Hansen in Matsuda, Ginoza. According to the Ministry of Defense and the U.S. military, there were at least four people on board. The three who were rescued are in a stable condition in hospital, but one was found dead. The grass, woods and helicopter wreckage at the crash site were still burning at 9:00 p.m. Other U.S. military helicopters attended to the fire. According to the police, damage to other people and the spread of debris have not been confirmed in the civilian areas outside the training area.

Shortly after the crash, Ginoza municipal officials, Ishikawa Police, and the Kin District Fire Station asked the U.S. military for access to the scene, but were refused. Some people worked in their houses and in fields just two kilometers away. There is a golf course within two kilometers, the village office is about 3.8 kilometers away and the Okinawa Expressway just one kilometer from the scene of the crash.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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Okinawa Governor asks central government to prevent recurrence of incidents

August 7, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima met Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera in Tokyo on August 6 to discuss the U.S. military helicopter crash. The governor asked the ministers to strongly urge the U.S. military to ground HH-60 helicopters while the cause of the crash is being examined and measures are being drawn up to prevent a recurrence. Government officials revealed that they had asked the U.S. to take the measures referred to by the governor.

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Ginoza Village assembly adopts protest resolution against U.S. helicopter crash

August 7, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On August 6 the Ginoza Village Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution of protest against the U.S. helicopter crash. Representatives of the Okinawa Prefectural Government and Ginoza Village Office protested to the Okinawa Defense Bureau. Many municipal assemblies, such as the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, Kadena and Kin, also moved to adopt protest resolutions. Citizens groups held protest rallies in front of both the Kadena Air Base and Futenma Air Station about the crash and further MV-22 Osprey coming.

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U.S. military imposes no-fly zone over crash site

August 8, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

From August 6, Kadena Air Base officials imposed no-fly zone over the site where the HH-60 helicopter crashed near Camp Hansen in Ginoza. Having issued a NOTAM (notice to airmen), the military restricted civilian aircraft, including news helicopters’ access to airspace above the scene. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism stated that it did not receive prior notice from the U.S. military. An official of the ministry commented that the NOTAM was invalid because it was not based on aviation law. The U.S. military will impose this no-fly zone until August 15. On August 6, the military authorities blocked all civilian aircraft from flying within an 11 km radius and up to 3 kms above the crash site. News helicopters were not able to get close to the scene that day.

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