Rescue helicopter crashes in eastern Japan, kills 2 of 9 aboard

A prefectural government rescue helicopter with nine people aboard crashed on an eastern Japan mountain Friday, killing two of the passengers, the Japanese transport ministry and local government said, Kyodo news agency reported.

The identities of two were not immediately known.

The chopper belonging to Gunma Prefecture lost contact with traffic control earlier in the day and debris was found in the afternoon on a mountain forest in Gunma.

The helicopter was on a flight to assess a trail route on the borders of Gunma, Nagano and Niigata prefectures, according to the prefectural government. The route was scheduled to open on Saturday.