A ten-year-old boy has been injured after a window from a U.S. military helicopter fell from the sky onto a Japanese school field Dec. 12.
The window from the CH-53E Super Stallion, operated by the Marine Corps, fell onto the sports field of the Daini Futenma Elementary School in Okinawa at 10:09 a.m., the U.S. Forces in Japan confirmed in a statement.
The metal-framed window measured one square meter and 7.7 kilograms, and came from the left side of the helicopter’s cockpit, Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported.
The helicopter returned to the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, located about 2.3 kilometres (1.4 miles) from the school, immediately after the incident.
The boy was hit in the arm when gravel was thrown up as the window hit the ground, local police told Kyodo. He sustained a minor injury with no obvious marks on him.
The schoolboy was among 60 students on the field when the incident took place. The nearest student was about five metres away from the window when it fell, Kyodo reported.
Takeshi Onaga, the governor of Okinawa, said, “The safety of children should come first. It is unforgivable that it dropped in the middle of the playground.”
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga also said the incident “creates anxiety” and “should never happen,” Reuters reported.
The U.S. military said,
We take this report extremely seriously and are investigating the cause of this incident in close coordination with local authorities. […]
This is a regrettable incident and we apologize for any anxiety it has caused the community.
Okinawa, an island in southern Japan, has sustained a heavy US military presence since the end of World War II, when Japan allied with Germany and Italy as part of the Axis powers.
The Futenma base, near where the accident took place, is surrounded by schools, hospitals, and shops, leading local residents to fear air crashes and accidents.
U.S. servicemen have also been linked to accidents and crime in Okinawa in the past. A U.S. Marine killed a local after crashing his truck into a minivan while under the influence in November.
Onaga, the governor of Okinawa, has been trying to move the Futenma base to a less populated part of the island.