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Pilot killed as MiG 21 fighter jet crashes in Himachal’s Kangra

The fighter aircraft crashed an hour after it had taken off from Pathankot air base on a routine sortie.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2018 09:04 IST
Naresh K Thakur and Jatinder Kaur Tur
Naresh K Thakur and Jatinder Kaur Tur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh and Dharamshala
MiG 21,MiG 21 fighter jet,Plane crash
Meet Kumar(HT Photo)

A MiG 21 fighter jet of the Indian Air Force crashed in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday, killing the pilot, Squadron Leader Meet Kumar, the IAF said.

The IAF has ordered a court of inquiry into the crash.

The aircraft had taken off from the Pathankot air base on a routing sortie at 12:20 pm. It crashed around 1:20 pm in Patta Jattian village in Jawali, around 70 km from Dharamshala.

“No loss of civilian life or damage to property has been reported in the incident as the plane crashed into the agricultural fields,” Kangra’s Superintendent of police of Kangra Santosh Patial said.

The pilot was initially thought to be missing. Two IAF helicopters landed at the crash site soon after the accident for search operations and on-the-spot investigation.

Patta Jatian residents were first to report the crash to authorities. “We heard a deafening sound and rushed out of our houses and saw smoke arising out of agricultural fields near our village,” said villager Hem Singh.

Another eyewitnesses Sardari Lal claimed that the plane exploded in the air before crashing into the fields. “First I thought it to be a lightening bolt. It crashed into the field at some distance. Then I thought it was an helicopter,” said Lal, who was working in the fields when the incident occurred.

Kangra’s Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kumar also said as per the initial information the jet had caught fire while it was airborne.

“It seems that the pilot executed a nose-dive in an open area to save civilian lives,” said Kumar adding .that the Jawali market is just five kilometers from the crash site.

The debris of the aircraft were spread over an area of two square kilometers.

Wednesday’s accident comes less than two months after another MiG 21 crashed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district on May 27. That crash too killed the pilot.

The ageing MiG 21 aircraft, once the workhorse of IAF were later dubbed flying coffins after a spurt in crashes. The aircraft was inducted into the IAF in 1963.

First Published: Jul 18, 2018 13:58 IST