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Two Die in India Jet Fighter Crash

November 14, 2002

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NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ An Indian air force fighter jet caught fire and crashed into a tea plantation during a training sortie Thursday, killing both the pilots on board, officials said.

The Soviet-made MiG-21 disintegrated over the Vojnagar tea estate in a hilly area of West Bengal state, local Police Superintendent Sanjay Chander was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India. No one on the ground was hurt.

In New Delhi, Indian air force spokesman Squadron Leader R.K. Dhingra said the trainer aircraft had been flying for 20 minutes and was returning to the regional base of Bagdogra. He gave no further details.

The cause of the accident was unknown, although India’s aging MiG fleet is prone to accidents. In the past six years, the government has reported more than 100 crashes that killed more than 50 pilots. Of those, 16 crashes occurred this year.

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