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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — U.S. Forces Japan and the Japanese government have agreed to compensate two residents of Ginowan for mental trauma caused by the crash of a Marine helicopter in their community last August.

The names of the residents and the amount of compensation were not released by either USFJ or the Defense Facilities Administration Agency. “We reached an agreement Thursday,” said a DFAA spokesman. “The amount of the compensation is, however, not releasable to protect the privacy of the residents.”

On Aug. 13, a Marine CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter crashed on the Okinawa International University campus, clipping the school’s administration building before bursting into flames.

Only the three crewmembers were injured, although debris from the helicopter damaged property in the surrounding neighborhood.

A Marine Corps investigation attributed the accident to the loss of the tail rotor and a section of the tail rotor pylon. An investigator said the maintenance crew, suffering from lack of sleep, failed to re-install a cotter pin on a bolt in the tail rudder assembly during a routine adjustment on the tail rotor flight control.

According to the DFAA, the payment is being made in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement between the U.S. and Japan. Under the agreement, Japan will pay the claim and then request the United States to reimburse it for 75 percent of the amount.

A DFAA official said it is the first time the government has agreed to pay medical claims for mental distress incurred by incidents involving U.S. forces in Japan. He said similar compensation is being considered in two additional cases.

Between Nov. 24 and Dec. 19, the DFAA’s Naha Bureau surveyed 199 people who live near the crash scene and identified four people as possibly suffering from psychological problems connected to the incident. The agency determined compensation should be paid to two persons and the health of the other two will be monitored.

Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.


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