Japanese authorities plan to resume saturation dive to recover lost helicopter

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Japanese authorities plan to resume saturation dive to recover lost helicopter

The Self-Defense Forces began preparations to resume a saturation dive to recover the remains of a ground Self-Defense Force helicopter and the 10 individuals aboard that were lost off Miyako Island, Okinawa Prefecture.

Sonar readings and underwater cameras have detected what's believed to be the fuselage of the helicopter and several bodies on the seabed. The GSDF will send a saturation dive team to the area for visual verification before launching a recovery operation.

The GSDF UH-600 JA multipurpose helicopter was carrying 10 personnel, including Lt. Gen. Yuichi Sakamoto, from the GSDF's 8th Division, when it disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff on April 6 from Miyako Island.

According to a government source, the sub rescue vessel Chihaya dropped a saturation dive chamber into the sea about seven kilometers north of Irabu Island on Friday, but the mission was suspended due to equipment irregularities during the descent.

The equipment was being tested and the SDF was planning to drop the chamber again.

Underwater images of the object in question, believed to be the fuselage sitting on the seafloor at a depth of about 100 meters, show signs of severe damage.