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Crop-dusting chopper crashes north of Tokyo, may have hit high-voltage wire

The helicopter that crashed in the Ibaraki Prefecture city of Chikusei is seen at 9:43 a.m. on July 29, 2019, a little over an hour after it crashed as it was crop dusting, in this photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter. (Mainichi/Kimi Takeuchi)

CHIKUSEI, Ibaraki -- A crop dusting helicopter crashed into a rice paddy in the Ibaraki Prefecture city of Chikusei on July 29, leaving the pilot with injuries to his face.

The crash took place as the helicopter was spraying agricultural chemicals onto a field in the Kuchido district of Chikusei at around 8:25 a.m. The 49-year-old pilot, a resident of Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, on the southwestern island of Kyushu, was injured but remained conscious as he was transported to the hospital. It is believed his injuries are not life-threatening.

The helicopter belongs to SGC Saga Aviation Co., which is headquartered in the city of Saga in Kyushu. Officials at Chikusei Police Station said a high-voltage wire was found damaged near the scene of the accident, pointing to the possibility that the helicopter crashed after getting caught on the cable.

Agricultural chemicals are sprayed by bodies including the Ibaraki Prefecture's agricultural mutual relief association, and the association said that work had been carried out from around 5 a.m. on July 29.

The area where the crash occurred is located some 5 kilometers north of JR Shimodate Station. Besides rice paddies, residences and factories dot the area.

(Japanese original by Ken Kawasaki, Mito Bureau)

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