Japanese defence minister revealed that an American military helicopter burst into flames after landing in an empty field in Okinawa Wednesday, and there were no casualties.
The US military however told Japanese authorities that their CH-53 transport helicopter “landed” before the fire erupted in the early evening just outside a training ground on the island, said Itsunori Onodera.
National broadcaster NHK showed dramatic footage of firefighters battling orange flames after dark and plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky.
“When the US Marine Corp CH-53 helicopter landed, a fire started. We have received information that all crew members were safe,” Onodera told reporters.
Japanese authorities asked the US military to provide a full report and take steps to prevent a similar accident.
“Accidents by the US Marine Corps are continuing. We want to communicate to the US side that we demand safe operations,” Onodera said.
According to eyewitnesses cited by NHK, the accident occurred shortly after 5:30 pm (0830 GMT).
Officials from the US Marines based in Okinawa could not immediately comment.
In December, five crewmembers aboard a US Marine MV-22 Osprey were injured after what the Pentagon described as a “mishap” resulting in the plane landing in shallow water off Okinawa.