Debris from missing chopper found off Aomori


The Japan Coast Guard found parts of a helicopter Monday that was believed to have crashed with four people aboard the previous day off the coast of Aomori Prefecture, they said.

Coast guard patrol boats found a door and a headset of the helicopter as well as a form of identification of one of the missing four — Shingo Kimura, 28, an Asahi Broadcasting Aomori announcer.

Rescuers continued looking for the missing four after a fishing boat participating in the search found an oil slick in the morning about 3 km northwest of the port of Oma on the northernmost tip of the Shimokita Peninsula.

Local fisheries officials said the slick, about 30 meters in diameter, might point to the vicinity where the helicopter crashed.

The boat’s fish-finder also detected an object “2 to 3 meters tall” on the ocean bottom nearby, the officials said.

On Sunday, police got a report from a man fishing near Omazaki Cape who said he saw a helicopter flying over the sea go out of sight, and then heard a loud noise.

Asahi Broadcasting Aomori said an announcer and cameraman boarded a helicopter owned by Ogawa Air of Osaka and had not returned.

The 2nd Regional Japan Coast Guard Headquarters in Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture, said the chopper was carrying pilot Kumio Koge, 57, who has 30 years of experience, copilot Hiromitsu Kikuchi, 43, cameraman Shinji Omori, 39, who works for a company affiliated with the Aomori-based broadcaster, and Kimura.

The copter left Aomori airport a little after 11 a.m. Sunday to report on a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer that had experienced a minor fire earlier in the day while heading for Ominato base in Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture.

A warning for heavy offshore fog had been in force since Saturday night and visibility was still at noon Sunday.