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ANKARA: At least one crew member was killed and another seven are missing after two Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopters crashed during a drill in the Pacific late Saturday, Japan’s defense minister said Sunday.

The two aircraft crashed in waters around 270 kilometres east of Torishima Island in the Izu Island chain during a nighttime anti-submarine drill in the area.

They are believed to have collided with each other, Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters, Anadolu Agency citingTokyo-based Kyodo News reported.

The Izu island chain is located south of Tokyo.

The SH-60K helicopters, each carrying four crew members, lost contact at 10.38 pm (local time) and 11.04 pm, respectively, with the MSDF receiving an emergency signal at 10.39 pm.

Two flight recorders were discovered “at extremely close locations,“ while what is thought to be parts of the two helicopters’ rotor blades and other aircraft debris were also found during a post-accident search, Kihara said.

The cause of the accident is still unknown, it added. - Bernama, Anadolu