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US helicopter accidentally drops container holding fuel, tools into sea in Okinawa

A U.S. military CH-53E helicopter. (Mainichi/Takayasu Endo)
Irisuna Island, foreground, used as a live-fire training area by the U.S. military, is seen with Tonaki Island in the background, in the Okinawa Prefecture village of Tonaki on Jan. 27, 2018, in this photo taken from a Mainichi aircraft. (Mainichi/Takeshi Noda)

NAHA -- The U.S. Marine Corps in Japan announced on July 13 that a metal military container holding fuel and other items accidentally fell from a CH-53E helicopter into the sea near Irisuna Island in Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture.

    The U.S. Marine Corps said the incident occurred at about 12:30 p.m. on July 13. According to Japan's Okinawa Defense Bureau and the Okinawa Prefectural Government, the container measured around 2 meters in width and 2.5 meters in length and height. It had been fastened to the outside of the helicopter from Irisuna Island, a small uninhabited island located west of the island of Okinawa. Tools, food, and a case including about 10 liters of fuel were among the items in the container. No damage to people or objects has been confirmed.

    The CH-53E helicopter, belonging to the Marine Corps' 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, is believed to have been stationed at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the Okinawa Prefecture city of Ginowan. The U.S. Marine Corps said the container fell northeast of Irisuna Island, between the island and Tonaki Island to the east.

    Japan has provided the entire 0.25 square kilometers of Irisuna Island to the U.S. military for live fire drills.

    (Japanese original by Takayasu Endo, Naha Bureau)

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