Four bodies recovered from freezing wreckage of plane in Japan’s Northern Alps 14 hours after emergency call

Police said they received an emergency phone call from one of the passengers after the crash alerting them to the accident

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 June, 2017, 4:28pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 June, 2017, 10:26pm

All four people aboard a crashed propeller plane were found dead Sunday in the wreckage a day after it went down in the Northern Japan Alps in Toyama Prefecture, police said.

Their bodies were transferred to a hospital in Toyama city by helicopter from the crash site, which is near Kurobe Dam, a popular tourist destination.

Police said they received an emergency phone call from one of the passengers after the crash alerting them to the accident.

“Two people, including the captain, are unconscious and the remaining two others are stuck but conscious,” a Toyama prefectural official had told AFP on Saturday after they received the distress call.

The police could not locate the crash site on Saturday partly due to thick fog. It was 14 hours after the distress call when rescuers finally spotted the aircraft.

Several metres of snow remain around the site, which is at an altitude of around 2,300 meters on a slope of Mount Shisidake and where temperatures can fall below zero, the police said.

The four on board the aircraft were pilot Takao Kinoshita, 57, Eiji Oguchi, 48, Kazuki Higuchi, 22, and Katsuki Kasai, 21.

The Japan Transport Safety Board on Sunday dispatched two officials to the crash site to look into the cause of the accident.

The crash occurred around 3pm in Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture on the Sea of Japan (East Sea) coast, when the single-engine Cessna 172P was travelling from Toyama airport to Matsumoto airport in neighbouring Nagano Prefecture on what appeared to be a training flight.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said the plane left Toyama airport at 2:23pm and was scheduled to arrive in Matsumoto airport in about an hour.

The plane, owned by New Central Airservice Co., headquartered in Ibaraki Prefecture, was being flown as a practice flight for Oguchi, who had obtained a pilot’s license. Kinoshita, a veteran pilot with 35 years of experience, is believed to have been the instructor.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse