Deep-sea diving in search of a Japan Self-Defense Forces helicopter that went missing last week with 10 personnel aboard off the southern prefecture of Okinawa was again paused Saturday, this time due to bad weather, government sources said.

The suspension comes as attempts to perform saturation diving, a technique that allows divers to work at great depths for lengthy periods, were halted Friday due to equipment flaws, after what are believed to be the remains of several people and a major part of the UH-60JA helicopter were found earlier that day.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force minesweeper Etajima (R) is pictured from Okinawa Prefecture's Ikema Island on April 15, 2023, as it takes part in the search for a Ground Self-Defense Force helicopter that went missing on April 6 with 10 personnel aboard. (Kyodo)

The SDF plans to resume attempts from Sunday onward to reach the debris and bodies on the ocean floor about 100 meters in depth, the sources said.

The helicopter is believed to have gone down after it disappeared from radar shortly after taking off from a base on Miyako Island on April 6 at 3:46 p.m.

The discoveries were made off the coast of Irabu Island, which lies west of Miyako Island and is connected by bridge.

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