French jet fighter crashes, crew missing

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A French air force Mirage 2000 jet fighter crashed in the central French countryside overnight and its pilot and navigator are missing, officials said Wednesday.

According to the military press centre, the plane dropped off radar 9.20pm local time (2020 GMT) on Tuesday, triggering a large-scale search and rescue effort.

The wreck of the jet was found on Wednesday in the Creuse region of central France, the regional state prefect Claude Serra told AFP.

"The crew have given no sign of life since last night. No locator beacon signal has been detected," he said, after his office said wreckage had been found near the village of Saint-Oradoux-pres-Crocq.

He said that the jet hit the ground near a small lake so hard that it created a massive crater that quickly filled with water, complicating the search for any sign of the pilots.

The armed forces said that a helicopter had been dispatched to the scene.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash, but an air force spokesman said that the jet had been conducting an extremely low level training flight at night in dense fog.

The Mirage 2000 is a multirole jet fighter and mainstay of the French air force, which has more than 300 deployed and is one of nine countries to use it. It first flew in the late 1970s and entered service in 1982.

© 2011 AFP

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