Photo/IllutrationMembers of the Ground Self-Defense Force retrieve one of the crashed helicopter's rotor blades from an irrigation ditch on Feb. 7 at Kanzaki, Saga Prefecture. (Nami Sugiura)

  • Photo/Illustraion

A rotor blade from the Ground Self-Defense Force helicopter that crashed in Kanzaki, Saga Prefecture, has been found in an irrigation ditch 500 meters southeast of the crash site, the Defense Ministry said Feb. 7.

Along with the discovery, part of the main rotor head, which turns the rotor blades, was also discovered, with the bolts used to secure it still attached. It is believed that the part broke at its base and came off during the flight, a ministry official said.

The AH-64D attack helicopter crashed in a residential area of Kanzaki on Feb. 5, killing the two crew members aboard and injuring an 11-year-old girl who escaped her burning house.

Of the helicopter's four main rotor blades, two were found on the grounds of the house it crashed into, according to the ministry.

Regular maintenance work had been carried out on the aircraft from Jan. 18 to Feb. 4, during which time the main rotor head was replaced. The chopper was deployed in March 2006, and it was the first time that the main rotor head was replaced.