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Sukhoi-Mirage crash in Morena: Eyewitnesses recount blast-like sound, 2 IAF pilots landing in nearby thicket

A Sukhoi 30MKI and a Mirage-2000 aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed near Madhya Pradesh's Morena area during a routine training mission on Saturday morning.

Sukhoi-Mirage crash in Morena: Eyewitnesses recount blast-like sound, 2 pilots landing in nearby thicket snt
First Published Jan 28, 2023, 6:50 PM IST

Eyewitnesses to the crash involving two Indian Air Force fighter jets in Morena in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, which killed a pilot, recounted hearing a loud sound and sighting balls of fire descending to the ground followed by two persons in uniform parachuting into the thicket nearby.

The two pilots of a Sukhoi 30MKI and a Mirage-2000 aircraft of the Indian Air Force could safely eject from their respective aircraft during a morning routine training operation. However, the pilot of the Mirage-2000 sustained fatal injuries.

The two aircraft's wreckage landed in Morena's Pahargarh area, 75 kilometres from the district office, while some parts also fell in Bharatpur, just across the border in neighbouring Rajasthan.

According to eyewitnesses, the two pilots were freed from the thicket by civilians who had gathered at the scene, who then laid them down till an IAF chopper arrived and took them for medical attention to Gwalior, whence the two planes had taken off on the usual training flight.

They claimed there was burning debris from the two aircraft scattered over a 500-800 meter-wide region four kilometres away from Pahargarh. These eyewitnesses claimed that those nearby attempted to put out the flames engulfing the two aircraft by hurling dirt at them and that more than 1,500 people from 15 adjacent towns quickly descended upon the spot.

"I was standing with some people here when we heard a massive noise from above, like a powerful bomb blast. We looked up to see balls of fire descending, some of which landed in a forested path here and some in Bharatpur on the other side," Pahargarh sarpanch Shailendra Shakya told media outlets at the site. 

Also read: Morena horror: IAF crash report card shows 24 fighters went down in last 5 years

"We saw two parachutes coming down and we waited for 15-20 minutes for the duo to land. However, they fell into the thicket and sustained injuries. We took them out from the bushes and laid them on the ground. While we were talking to the two pilots in uniform, an IAF helicopter arrived and flew them to Gwalior," Shakya informed. 

In addition to saying that municipal and IAF officials arrived at the scene and began a search operation, he stated a dismembered body with hands cut was discovered next to the rubble. Veeru, a local of Pahargarh, claimed to have been nearby when the tragedy happened at around 10:30 am.

"I saw an aircraft with its front portion in flames. I saw smoke billowing from a spot some five kilometres away. We tried to extinguish the flames with mud in vain as we did not have water at the time," he said. Sarpanch Shakya called the police and fire brigade after the incident, he claimed.

(With inputs from PTI)

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