Eight French, two Greeks killed in fighter jet crash in Spain: PM

26th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

Eight French nationals and two Greeks were killed when a Greek fighter jet crashed at a NATO military base in Spain on Monday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said.

Television footage showed flames and thick black smoke billowing from the crash site, as sirens wailed in the background.

"It appears that there are two people who died and who have Greek nationality and eight French," he said during an interview with private television Telecinco.

"It appears that there are numerous injured. The figure of 10 French, 11 Italians is being mentioned. It is still early," he added.

Rajoy said he obtained the information on the injured from Defence Minister Pedro Morenes.

The French presidency confirmed the eight deaths.

Spain's defence ministry said an F-16 jet "lost power" as it took off from the base near the southeastern city of Albacete and crashed into an area where other planes were parked, striking "at least" five other planes.

It said 19 people were injured in the accident, including five who have been moved to a burn unit of a Madrid hospital.

Spanish media said the two pilots on board the F-16 were among the dead, as well as other pilots and mechanics in the parking area when it crashed just after 3:00 pm (1400 GMT).

Rajoy said French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian would travel to the scene of the accident near Albacete, about 250 kilometres (150 miles) southeast of Madrid, along with an unnamed Italian minister.

The French defence ministry said there were planes from several nations at the base at the time of the accident, including two Alpha Jets, two Mirage 2000D and two Rafale jets.

The base has housed a training centre for NATO pilots since 2010, according to its website.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was "deeply saddened" by the disaster.

"This is a tragedy which affects the whole NATO family. I express my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones and the nations of those who lost their lives, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured," he said in a statement.

"The plane was taking part in an exercise in the framework of NATO's Tactical Leadership Programme, which aims to improve multinational cooperation in air operations," Stoltenberg said.

© 2015 AFP

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