Japan wants USA chopper grounded until safety confirmed

The helicopter crashed in Japan

The helicopter crashed in Japan

Takeshi Onaga on Thursday inspected the site of Wednesday's crash-landing of a CH-53 USA military helicopter in the village of Higashi in the prefecture.

The accident occurred Wednesday afternoon, with a CH-53E catching fire in midair during a training flight and bursting into flames as it made an emergency landing in a field near the U.S. Northern Training Area on the main island of Okinawa.

In a meeting in Tokyo between Onodera and Maj. "This incident adds to concerns of the people in the prefecture who live side by side with USA bases", Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said in a statement addressed to Onodera.

Chiarotti, for his part, said that as well as grounding the choppers, he would consider measures to prevent further such incidents.

None of its seven crew members or local residents was hurt, but the latest accident, which follows the crash-landing of a USA military Osprey aircraft off the Okinawa main island in December, led the prefectural government to lodge a strong protest.

"I felt disconcerted at seeing the sudden change from ordinary life to this frightful situation". Local media reported the aircraft had landed less than two miles from a school.

The statement also said locals "cannot help but feel strong doubts over the US military's aircraft maintenance and safety measures" and demanded that CH-53Es be grounded until the cause of the accident is identified and "effective" preventive steps are taken.

The United States had suspended flights by all CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopters deployed in Okinawa Prefecture following an emergency landing there on Wednesday.

Okinawan officials and residents want to see the base relocated outside the prefecture, whereas the central government maintains that relocating it to a coastal region within Okinawa remains the only solution.

Onodera said the U.S. had agreed to his request.

Seikyu Iju, mayor of the village, separately inspected the accident site on Thursday.

Onaga is set to urge the Japanese government and the US military to thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and halt the operations of CH-53 helicopters.