3 dead in helicopter crash into Japan mountain

TOKYO: Three people were pronounced dead after a local government helicopter crashed into a mountain in central Japan on Sunday, a news report said. Two others are unconscious following the crash of the disaster-management helicopter with nine people on board, broadcaster NHK reported, citing local police. The cause of the accident was unknown. Local police officials suspended their rescue operations for the other four people due to bad weather, NHK said. TV footage showed the mangled wreckage of the helicopter on the slope of Mount Hachibuse, 170 kilometres north-west of Tokyo. The Bell 412 EP helicopter belonging to the Nagano prefectural government left Matsumoto airport at 1:20 pm (0420 GMT) and it was scheduled to return to the site by 5 pm, according to NHK. Local police found the crashed helicopter at around 3 pm, the report said. The helicopter carrying the pilot, a mechanic and seven firefighters was conducting a mountain rescue drill in the region, local Nagano government officials said. — DPA