4 Self-Defence Force personnel killed in Japan military plane crash

This handout picture provided by the Japanese Defence Ministry/Self Defence Force on May 16, 2017 shows the plane crash site in a mountainous region on the northern island of Hokkaido.
This handout picture provided by the Japanese Defence Ministry/Self Defence Force on May 16, 2017 shows the plane crash site in a mountainous region on the northern island of Hokkaido. PHOTO: AFP/JAPANESE DEFENCE MINISTRY
This handout picture provided by the Japanese Defence Ministry/Self Defence Force on May 16, 2017 shows the plane crash site in a mountainous region on the northern island of Hokkaido.
This handout picture provided by the Japanese Defence Ministry/Self Defence Force on May 16, 2017 shows the plane crash site in a mountainous region on the northern island of Hokkaido. PHOTO: EPA/JGSDF

TOKYO (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) - Four crew members aboard a crashed Japanese military plane were confirmed dead on Tuesday (May 16), the Defence Ministry said.

The wreckage was found on the northern island of Hokkaido, where the LR-2 reconnaissance craft disappeared from radar on Monday (May 15) near Hakodate airport.

It had been flying there to pick up a hospital patient at the request of Hokkaido's governor.

Troops and emergency crews earlier on Tuesday found debris spread widely over the mountainous area, with television footage showing trees levelled.

Parts shown included a damaged frame with a red circle resembling the Japanese national flag and used as a symbol of the nation's Self-Defence Force.

"Their deaths have been confirmed," a ministry spokesman said of the Ground Self Defence Force members.

The propeller aircraft was scheduled to take the patient from Hakodate to Sapporo, Hokkaido's capital city, for special medical treatment.