Two people have been confirmed dead after a Japanese government helicopter that was reported missing, was found to have crashed in Gunma prefecture, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.
The fate of the other seven members aboard the helicopter remains unknown as rescuers attempt to reach the crash site located in a mountainous area under foggy conditions, local authorities said.
The disaster prevention helicopter lost contact with air traffic controllers shortly past 10 am local time after taking off at 9.15 am. It was flown by experienced pilot Noriyuki Amagai, 57, said a source.
The helicopter was scheduled to return to its heliport in Maebashi city, Gunma prefecture, at 10.45 am, prefecture officials said.
It was supposed to be observing a hiking trail which spans Gunma, Nagano and Niigata prefectures when contact was lost.