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Two pilots killed in Vietnam Su-22 trainer jet crash

Two pilots were killed in Vietnam Thursday when their Su-22 training jet crashed into thick jungle in heavy rains, police told AFP from the central mountainous region where the accident occurred.

The pilots were on a training drill when their aircraft crashed around midday in Nghe An province, a local police officer told AFP.

“The two pilots were killed,” the officer said, refusing to be named, adding that bad weather was hampering efforts to recover the victims’ remains.

An official with Nghia Dan district told Reuters that the aircraft crashed in a hilly area in the district, which is around 300 km (180 miles) south of Hanoi.

DTI reported that the jet took off at 11:16 a.m. but contact was lost at 11:35 a.m.

Colonel General Nguyen Trong Nghia, deputy chairman of the General Political Department of the People’s Army of Vietnam named the pilots as Lieutenant Colonel Khuat Manh Tri and Colonel Pham Giang Nam, according to DTI.

Images on state media showed a large plume of smoke rising from dense mountain jungles where the plane – a Russian-made Sukhoi Su-22 from Vietnam People’s Air Force – went down.

Though Vietnam has a strong civil aviation record, military aircraft accidents are relatively common.

It has seen a series of deadly accidents in recent years, with 14 people killed in four separate military crashes in 2016. Nineteen were killed in similar accidents in 2014.

The communist country buys most of its military equipment from Russia, a Cold War-era ally which supplied weapons used to fight the Americans during the Vietnam War.

But it has sought to modernize its arsenal in recent years, turning to newer allies such as France and Germany to purchase equipment.

US gives patrol boats to Vietnam amid South China Sea tensions

With reporting from AFP

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