SEOUL, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- The veterans ministry has decided to recognize the five deceased Marines in the July chopper crash as men of national merit, officials said Wednesday.

Following the decision Tuesday, the ministry conferred the national merit certificates to the families of Col. Kim Jung-il, Lt. Col. Noh Dong-hwan, Master Sgt. Kim Jin-hwa, Sgt. 1st Class Kim Se-young and Sgt. Park Jae-woo.

The MUH-1 Marineon helicopter, the Marine variant of the KUH-1 Surion helicopter, crashed at a military airport in Pohang, some 374 kilometers south of Seoul, on July 17, killing the five of the six Marines aboard.

A joint team consisting of civilian, military and government experts was launched last month. The investigators are said to be putting more weight on technical defects, rather than human error, as the more likely cause of the crash because the chopper's rotor blades were separated from the fuselage just four to five seconds after takeoff.

Source: Yonhap News Agency