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Friday, October 29, 1999 Published at 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK


World: South Asia

Pakistan naval aircraft crashes



A Pakistani naval surveillance aircraft has crashed killing all 21 officers and sailors on board.

The plane, an American built P-3C Orion aircraft, crashed near the coastal town of Pasni, 90 km west of Karachi in the province of Baluchistan.

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

A Pakistan navy spokesman said 11 sailors and 10 officers were on board the aircraft, which was on a routine reconnaissance mission from the southern port city of Karachi.

Several naval ships, submarines and aircraft were taking part in the exercise which was held off the southwestern coast of Pakistan, the spokesman said.

He said the aircraft went missing at 1200 local time (0700 GMT), when it disappeared off radar screens after it took off at 0900 (0400 GMT).

A rescue operation was undertaken and the wreckage of the aircraft was located six hours later, with the help of navy helicopters.

An investigation into the crash has been announced and will begin shortly.

"It does not seem to be a shooting incident. It is most probably a technical reason," the naval official told reporters.

The US built Orion, a four-engine turboprop, is an anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.

It is equipped with submarine detection sensors and is reported to be Pakistan's only land-based antisubmarine warfare aircraft.

Last August, a Pakistan navy Atlantique aircraft was shot down by an Indian fighter jet in the Kacch region.

Pakistan said the aircraft was on a training mission over the southern Pakistan coast.

India said the aircraft had crossed the international border into its airspace.





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