DN - Defence Notes

Pilot saved from power line after Belgian F-16 crashes in France

20th September 2019 - 08:18 GMT | by ‚ÄčAgence France-Presse in Rennes

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An F-16 jet of the Belgian Air Component crashed on 19 September in western France, with both pilots successfully ejecting but one spending two hours hanging from a power line before being cut down, officials said.

Parts from the stricken plane, which was not carrying weapons and was flying from Belgium to a French base on a training mission, crashed into houses in the Morbihan region around the town of Pluvigner.

'The pilot and the co-pilot were able to eject before the crash. They were both located and are alive,' the office of the state representative for the region said in a statement.

It said one pilot had been rescued but the other had become tangled with a high-voltage power line and was left hanging from his parachute.

The pilot was finally cut loose after a two-hour rescue effort, the statement said. It added that both pilots had been injured but gave no further details on their conditions.

The plane had taken off from Belgium and was heading on a training mission to a French naval airbase close to the town of Lorient.

The Belgian defence ministry confirmed the incident, saying the pilots successfully ejected, without elaborating.

Local security forces evacuated eight homes housing a total of 15 residents.

Pluvigner resident Patrick Kauffer told the local Le Telegramme daily that the "wing of the plane took out part of the roof of our house. The damage was serious."

He said the crash set ablaze his shed and some trees.

The plane had taken off from Belgium and was heading on a training mission to a French naval airbase close to the town of Lorient.

The Belgian air force commander Frederik Vansina told reporters in Brussels that the incident appeared to have been caused by an engine problem with the plane, which was built in 1983, but that an investigation would provide further details.

He said both pilots were in hospital but should return to their families in Belgium as soon as Thursday evening.

However, Morbihan officials told AFP that relatives of the pilots were expected to visit them in hospital during the evening.   

Local security forces evacuated eight homes with a total of 15 residents. Clavreuil said one home suffered substantial damage.

'The lady in the house was in a state of shock and taken to hospital,' he said. 

Pluvigner resident Patrick Kauffer told the local Le Telegramme daily that the 'wing of the plane took out part of the roof of our house. The damage was serious.'

He said the crash also set ablaze his shed and some trees.

'I am relieved that our two pilots are safe and sound after the crash of the F-16 and there was no victim on the ground,' Belgium's Foreign and Defence Minister Didier Reynders said on Twitter.

The Belgian military 'will take care of them and their family. An investigation is under way,' he added.

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