Pilot killed in MiG-21 jet crash

Pilot killed in MiG-21 jet crash

A MiG-21 fighter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Tuesday, killing the pilot on board.

Reports said the single-seater MiG-21 jet, a Russian-built aircraft, crashed in an open agricultural field at around 10:50 am in Marhama village in Bijbehara, 45 km from here, resulting into the death of squadron leader Raghu Bansi.

Srinagar based defence spokesperson Lt Col NN Joshi said, “The MiG which had taken off from Srinagar’s Technical Air Base was on a routine sortie in the area when it crashed 10 kilometres short of Koil, Awantipora Air Base.”

He said the body of the pilot was retrieved from the debris and taken in a chopper by a rescue team of IAF.

Eyewitness told Deccan Herald over phone that the plane caught fire before it crashed and exploded with a bang. “The pilot had evicted moments before the crash but his parachute came in contact with a 320 KV HT wire resulting in  his death,” they said. However, the officials said that they were trying to ascertain the facts.

Reports said the explosion created panic among the villagers who ran for safety. However, later on after learning that a plane had crashed they rushed to the spot, reports said and added the splinters of the plane could be seen scattered all over the place.

Police said there are no reports of damage to civilians or their properties.

The cause of the crash is not yet known. However, the IAF has initiated a Court on Inquiry (CoI) to probe the incident. “A CoI has been ordered to investigate the cause of the accident,” an IAF statement said.

India is in the process of phasing out MiG-21 squadron following incidents of its frequent crashes. Official data reveals that more than half country’s fleet of 872 MiGs, nicknamed “flying coffins” by the media, have been lost to crashes over the last four decades.

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