TOKYO — A Japanese military helicopter crashed in southwestern Japan on Monday, killing one of its two crewmembers and ripping the top floor off a house and setting it on fire, officials said. The other crewmember was missing and one resident of the house was injured slightly.
The Boeing AH-64 combat helicopter, belonging to the Ground Self-Defense Force's Metabaru training camp, crashed in Kanzaki city in Saga prefecture seven minutes after taking off on a test flight after routine maintenance, defense officials said.
The Defense Ministry said the copilot suffered heart and lung failure and was later pronounced dead, and the pilot was missing. The ministry earlier said both had been found.
Public broadcaster NHK showed orange flames and black smoke rising from the charred house, which had its upper floor torn off. Witnesses reported a big boom and ripping noises from the sky before the crash.
An 11-year-old girl was the only one of the four residents of the damaged house who was home at the time and managed to escape, according to Saga prefecture's disaster department. It said she suffered a minor knee injury. The house next door and a storage building were also damaged, the disaster department said.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the helicopter fell nose down after losing contact with air traffic control. He said the cause of the accident is under investigation.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the grounding of all 12 helicopters of the same type for safety checks, Kyodo News agency reported.
The crash follows a series of emergency landings and other incidents involving U.S. military aircraft on Japan's southern island of Okinawa.