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Okinawa prefectural police interview a U.S. Navy aircrew member Wednesday, as Uruma City firefighters tend to injured sailors during a mock emergency response drill at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan.

Okinawa prefectural police interview a U.S. Navy aircrew member Wednesday, as Uruma City firefighters tend to injured sailors during a mock emergency response drill at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan. (Natasha Lee / S&S)

Okinawa prefectural police interview a U.S. Navy aircrew member Wednesday, as Uruma City firefighters tend to injured sailors during a mock emergency response drill at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan.

Okinawa prefectural police interview a U.S. Navy aircrew member Wednesday, as Uruma City firefighters tend to injured sailors during a mock emergency response drill at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan. (Natasha Lee / S&S)

Uruma City firefighters carry a "wounded" sailor to a nearby ambulance Wednesday during an exercise with U.S. military and Japanese emergency responders. The scenario involved a U.S. Navy aircraft crash outside a military base.

Uruma City firefighters carry a "wounded" sailor to a nearby ambulance Wednesday during an exercise with U.S. military and Japanese emergency responders. The scenario involved a U.S. Navy aircraft crash outside a military base. (Natasha Lee / S&S)

WHITE BEACH NAVAL FACILITY, Okinawa — It was a hectic scene Wednesday as Japanese and U.S. Navy emergency responders rushed to rescue "victims" of a simulated plane crash.

The rescue unfolded as swiftly as the smoke that bellowed from the burning U.S. Navy plane.

The drill, set on White Beach Naval Facility, centered on a Navy plane crash that occurred outside a military base — killing two crewmembers and injuring three others. Several nearby civilians were apparently struck by debris.

The exercise was the third to occur on Okinawa under a 2005 agreement between Japanese and U.S. military officials to improve coordinated response to accidents involving military aircraft outside bases. The drill, which involved more than 100 Okinawa and U.S. military emergency responders, was a first for the Navy.

While Japanese police worked to extract victims trapped in cars, Japanese firefighters showered the aircraft with gallons of water and U.S. Navy security forces helped maintain order. Sailors played injured crewmembers and pedestrians.

Within 30 minutes, survivors had been whisked away in ambulances, and U.S. and Japanese officials were assessing the events.

U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Vizcarra, Commander, Fleet Activities, Okinawa, who helped oversee Wednesday’s drill, said both parties "learned a great deal about each other’s capabilities and responsibilities during a time of crisis."

Under the guidelines set by the U.S. military and Okinawa Crisis Management committee, Japanese officials are given increased control over the outer perimeter of a crash site to maintain order, and U.S. and Japanese agencies jointly control the inner site and access points.


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