US Military Apologizes After Dropping Helicopter Parts On Elementary School In Japan

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The U.S. military issued an apology Wednesday after part of a military helicopter fell on an elementary school in Japan, injuring a little boy.

The metal-framed window of the largest and heaviest helicopter in the U.S. military, a Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion transport aircraft, fell on a playground at Daini Futenma Elementary School near Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, U.S. Forces Japan said in a statement, adding, “This is a regrettable incident, and we apologize for any anxiety it has caused the community.”

At the time of the incident, there were about 50 schoolchildren outside, and one 10-year-old boy was slightly injured by gravel thrown up after the helicopter window hit the ground. Etsuko Kyan, the school principal, said it is “a miracle” no one was seriously hurt, reports Japan’s Kyodo News Agency.

“The safety of children should come first. It is unforgivable that it dropped in the middle of the playground,” Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said in response.

The accident is the second such incident in two weeks, as part of another U.S. military helicopter fell onto a nearby Japanese kindergarten last week. Another Marine Corps CH-53E crashed into a farm on Okinawa in October.

All CH-53Es have reportedly been grounded for safety checks.

The latest incident is likelyto stir greater frustration among the locals, who have expressed concern and anger over accidents and crime linked to the U.S. military presence on Okinawa.

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