A body was reportedly seen floating in the waters off Miyako Island in the southern prefecture of Okinawa where a military helicopter with 10 members aboard went missing a few days ago, the Japan Coast Guard said Saturday.
The Ground Self-Defense Force received a call from a local resident who said that "what looked like a human body" was floating north of Irabu Island, a nearby island of Miyako.
With all 10 members still unaccounted for after the helicopter went missing on Thursday, the GSDF notified the coast guard and searched the area but no further information about the sighting was immediately available.
The GSDF UH-60JA multipurpose helicopter is believed to have crashed after encountering an unexpected anomaly during the 10-minute period after takeoff.
GSDF officials said earlier Saturday that the helicopter's automatic distress signal transmitter likely failed when it presumably crashed Thursday afternoon.
Neither of the air traffic control centers received a distress signal from the helicopter's emergency locator transmitter that was designed to automatically activate on impact, the officials said.
The helicopter took off from a base on Miyako Island at 3:46 p.m. on Thursday for a land survey and flew about 10 minutes before disappearing from radar.
Search efforts are continuing, with several objects including part of a rotor blade and a door found so far.
The helicopter underwent a special inspection in late March after 50 flying hours and was taken for a one-hour flight to check its safety but no abnormalities were found at the time, according to the GSDF.
The deadliest accident involving GSDF aircraft was a helicopter crash in Ehime Prefecture in 1968 that left eight people dead.