A Japanese military helicopter crashed into a residential district in the city of Kanzaki on Monday afternoon, with local reports suggesting that the two crew members have been killed.
The Apache AH-64 attack helicopter was taking part in exercises when it came down on houses close to a elementary school, national broadcaster NHK reported. Footage on television has shown firefighters tackling a blaze that has gutted a two-storey home and caused damage to surrounding buildings.
The images showed a plume of black smoke rising over houses and apartment blocks.
There are no reports of injuries to civilians on the ground and the house is reported to have been empty at the time of the accident. Education authorities in Saga Prefecture, south-west Japan, have confirmed that no children attending the nearby school were injured.
The incident comes amid growing public concern over accidents involving military helicopters, primarily in the southern prefecture of Okinawa.Smoke billows from a house after a Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force's Apache attack helicopter crashed in Kanzaki Credit: REUTERS/ KYODO
On February 1, the regional government passed a resolution protesting at a series of forced landings and other mishaps involving aircraft operated by the US military. In January alone, US helicopters made three forced landings in the prefecture, although there were no injuries.
Takashi Onaga, the governor of Okinawa, described the situation as "crazy".
"The US military is out of control", he said."They cannot exercise any oversight, there are no signs they will reform and the Japanese government cannot handle them", he told reporters last week.
A school close to the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa has been forced to ban children from playing outdoors after a large metal door fell into the school playground from a helicopter. There were no reports of injuries.