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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006

Reporter's kin file suit over chopper crash


Staff writer

The family of a reporter who died in a 2004 helicopter crash in Nagano Prefecture filed a damages lawsuit for 168 million yen Wednesday against the government and her employer for not taking steps that might have prevented the accident.

The crash took place in March 2004 when 26-year old Shina Miyoshi, a reporter for Shinetsu Broadcasting Corp., was covering a traffic accident in a chopper chartered from Nakanihon Air Service Co.

The helicopter hit a power line and plunged, exploding as it hit the banks of the Kiso River. All four people on board were killed.

Miyoshi's family is demanding compensation from the state, SBC, Nakanihon Air Service and Chubu Electric Power Co. for not having taken action to prevent the crash despite similar accidents in the past, including a 1993 crash in Gifu Prefecture when a another helicopter also hit a power cable.

"Power lines are extremely difficult to see," lawyer Kazuo Hizumi told reporters Wednesday. "It was obvious in 1993 that some sort of marker should have been placed on the wires.

"Despite this fact, neither the government nor the utility took accurate measures and neglected" the problem.

The Aviation Law states that markers must be placed on wires at 60 meters or higher off the ground, but has no penalties for violations.

Miyoshi's helicopter hit a wire 152 meters above the ground that did not have a marker, according to Hizumi.

Last month, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry revised the law to specify places for markers and requiring checks, but did not address the issue of penalties.



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