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Oxygen mask found near 1985 JAL jet crash site in east Japan

An oxygen mask that was discovered in the Sugenosawa area on Mount Osutaka in Gunma Prefecture is seen on Aug. 5, 2022, as it was unveiled to the press in Tokyo's Ota Ward. (Mainichi/Kaho Kitayama)

TOKYO -- Japan Airlines Co. (JAL) on Aug. 5 unveiled to the media an oxygen mask that was retrieved near the site of the 1985 JAL jumbo jet crash in east Japan that killed 520 passengers and crew members, as it prepared to mark the 37th anniversary of the tragedy.

    The mask, believed to be from the fated Flight 123, was found on June 24 on Mount Osutaka in Gunma Prefecture, in an area called Sugenosawa, where many of the victims were found in the wake of the crash on Aug. 12, 1985, according to the airline company.

    A construction worker found the mask during restoration work on a road that partially gave way when Typhoon Hagibis hit the area in 2019. The road leads to the starting point of a trail up Mount Osutaka. When the mask was dug up from the ground by a shovel loader, it had no major damage, with its tube and other parts still attached. JAL said it was unknown whether the mask had been used by a passenger or crew member at the time.

    An engine component was similarly discovered on July 17 last year near the Sugenosawa area. A JAL employee found the steel component, about 20 centimeters in diameter, lying on the ground.

    According to the airline, it is likely both the engine part and the oxygen mask were exposed during landslides triggered by the 2019 typhoon. JAL will look into putting the items on display at its Safety Promotion Center in the future.

    Hiroaki Sakai, an official of JAL's safety promotion headquarters, commented, "These discovered components appear as if they are delivering a message to us regarding whether we are exerting efforts for safety properly. We will once again brace ourselves to address safety."

    (Japanese original by Shotaro Kinoshita, Tokyo City News Department)

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