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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 07:35 GMT 08:35 UK
Indian fighter jet crashes
An earlier crashed Indian MiG
More than 150 Indian fighters have crashed in the last decade
An Indian Air Force fighter jet has crashed killing three civilians.

The Russian-build MiG-23 aircraft came down and hit two farm houses near a village in the northern state of Punjab.

The pilot managed to bail out and land in a nearby wheat field, but six other people were injured.

Reports from the site say a huge fire broke out after the crash and fire-fighters were deployed to fight the blaze.

"Several others are trapped in the debris and the exact number of injured and dead will only be known after the debris is cleared," the Reuters news agency quoted an air force spokesman as saying.

Indian Air Force officials have told the BBC that the aircraft developed a fault barely minutes after taking off from the nearby air base of Halwara, some 350 km north of the Indian capital, Delhi.

Poor history

The MiG-23 was on a routine training mission when it came down.

It is the third time over the past year that an Indian Air Force jet has crashed into civilian areas in Punjab state.

Last July, seven people were killed after a MiG-21 fighter crashed into a suburb of Jalandhar city.

In November, a Jaguar aircraft crashed into houses in Ambala, leaving four people dead.

The crashes have raised concerns about air bases operating near major civilian centres.

More than 150 Indian fighter planes have crashed in the past 10 years with experts blaming a lack of training facilities and poor maintenance.




SEE ALSO:
India's air force scraps outdated jets
09 Nov 02  |  South Asia
MiG fighter crashes in India
26 Jun 02  |  South Asia


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