All nine people aboard a rescue helicopter which crashed in a mountainous area in central Japan during a training flight have been confirmed dead.
The Bell 412 helicopter carrying seven local rescue workers from the Gunma prefecture and two from a flight service company lost contact about an hour after take-off Friday and crashed
Television footage showed debris of the helicopter scattered on the mountainside, apparently after it crashed while tearing down trees.
The helicopter left its base Friday morning on a two-hour flight to observe climbing routes from the air but did not return and lost contact with air traffic control.
Police and troops organised a search and rescue operation after the helicopter plunged into a forest Friday in Gunma prefecture, northwest of Tokyo.
The victims were disaster management officials and firefighters as well as the pilot and an aviation mechanic, the official said.
Aerial footage broadcast on Japanese television showed the wreckage of the crashed helicopter surrounded by trees, as the government dispatched aircraft accident investigators to the site.
Image for illustration purposes.