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Chopper crashed last year in Saitama Pref. after hitting tree: report.

TOKYO, July 29 Kyodo

A rescue helicopter belonging to the Saitama prefectural government crashed in July last year on a mountain in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture as it lost control after the tail rotor hit a tree, the Japan Transport Safety Board said in a progress report Friday.

The accident that killed five of the seven people aboard may have been caused by not carefully looking out to the rear of the chopper, which is a blind spot from the pilot's seat, the board under the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry said in the report to be finalized later.

The helicopter for disaster prevention -- an AS365 model made by Eurocopter -- crashed around 11:10 a.m. on July 25, 2010, after lowering two rescue workers to the ground during a mission to rescue a member of a mountain climbing party.

Footage from the video camera that was attached to the chopper's hoist breaks up after showing leaves and branches scattering and the aircraft turning about 90 degrees counterclockwise seconds later, according to the report.

The chopper may have lost balance when the tail rotor hit a tree and sucked in branches while it was moving to the left in order to lower the rescuers to a target spot, it said.

A week after the crash, two TV journalists died as they climbed the mountain to cover the accident.
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Aug 1, 2011
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