TOKYO, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- A helicopter belonging to Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) crashed during a drill Saturday night, leaving three crew members missing.
The SH-60J patrol helicopter lost contact at around 10:50 p.m. local time (1350 GMT) on Saturday during a landing and takeoff drill on a destroyer off Aomori Prefecture, northeastern Japan, according to Japan's Defense Ministry.
Four people were on board the helicopter. One of them was rescued some 40 minutes after the incident, and the MSDF and Japan Coast Guard are still searching for the other three, according to the MSDF.
Japan's new Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters on Sunday that parts of the wreckage of the helicopter had been found around the crash area.
He also said that all helicopters of the same type have been grounded to ensure safety.
Shingo Mimura, governor of Aomori prefecture, said that the crash was "extremely regrettable" and could increase public distrust in the safety management of the SDF.
He urged the MSDF to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and to prevent similar incidents from happening.
The incident happened just 10 days after a MSDF CH101 helicopter flipped over at the Iwakuni Air Base in Yamaguchi prefecture on Aug. 17, leaving four people on board injured.