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Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 14:59 GMT
Fuel tank falls off Harrier plane
An RAF Harrier jet had to make an emergency landing after a fuel tank fell off it as it flew over Devon.

The auxiliary fuel tank landed next to the A3124 at Winkleigh, resulting in the road being closed.

The area was cordoned off over concerns that the tank was potentially dangerous and could explode, police said.

The RAF Cottesmore aircraft made a safe emergency landing at RNAS Yeovilton. A spokesman for the base said that the tank "inadvertently became detached".

The pilot was surprised the tank came off
RNAS Yeovilton spokesman
The aircraft was on a routine training flight from RAF Cottesmore, near Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, when the incident happened on Friday morning.

The empty 10ft (3.3m) long metal tank plunged into a grass verge near the road.

Devon Fire and Rescue Service examined the tank and ascertained it was empty. But the road is being kept closed because of danger of fire from fuel vapours.

Military units are attending to safely recover the tank.

The aircraft went on to land at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.

A Yeovilton spokesman said that the auxiliary tank "came away" from the aircraft, and was not jettisoned.

"The pilot was surprised the tank came off," said the spokesman.

"We will have to investigate what happened. It is not the first time it has happened, but it is unusual."

After losing the tank, the Harrier made its emergency landing safely with its second auxiliary tank still attached. The plane was undamaged and no-one was hurt.

An RAF spokesman said the pilot would be interviewed.

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