Thursday, September 10, 2009

IAF MiG 21 crashes, pilot killed


MiG-21 fighter jet of the IAF crashed at this village in Muktsar district at 2 pm today. Pilot, Flight Lieutenant Manu Akhouri (22), hailing from Jharkhand, died on the spot.The fighter jet C-1641, took off on routine sortie from Air Force station, Bhisiana in Bathinda district in the afternoon. After a few minutes of flying, it caught fire and came close to ground.

After circling twice over the village, it veered towards Muktsar and crashed with blast on the Bathinda-Muktsar main road, 500 metres from the village. The crash left six-foot deep pit at the site, which is 100 metres from a petrol station. Gurtej Singh, who works at Sunder Filling Station, said: “I saw burning jet hovering over my head and a blast took place in the air, before it crashed”.

Farmers working in nearby fields at the time of the crash said the fighter jet was in flames before it crashed. The pilot apparently to save the populated areas manoeuvred the plane towards fields for crash landing. When the jet came close to the ground, a bus was plying on the road. Apparently to avert an accident with the vehicle, the jet hit a tree and was blown to pieces.

The farmers witnessed the pilot ejecting with his seat with rapid pressure. However,he had succumbed to his injuries. The parachute of the pilot was lying beside the body.Thana Singh, a farmer, said: “The fighter jet came down once but again started going upwards. After a few seconds it again came down and crashed”. Officers of Bathinda and Muktsar administrations and the IAF reached the spot.

Helicopters, ambulances and fire tenders reached the spot in a few minutes of the crash. The whole area was cordoned off and the IAF authorities launched probe.Collecting scattered pieces of the plane had started, but the road could not be cleared till the filing of the report. Meanwhile, body of the pilot was taken for post-mortem examination.

Though IAF officials avoided meeting the media, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, Rajat Aggarwal said: “As per the IAF authorities, Manu was regular pilot. He took off from Bhisiana station and after routine sortie he had to fly back”.

The crash is the seventh accident suffered by the IAF this year. The IAF had lost a Kiran MK-II trainer aircraft of the Surya Kiran aerobatic team in January, a Sukhoi SU-30MKI in April, a MiG-27 and a MiG-21 Bison in May, and an AN-32 transport and a MiG-21 trainer in June.

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