Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sri Lankan Air Force Kfir fighter jets collided

Two fighter jets collided and crashed Tuesday while practicing for an exhibition marking the Sri Lankan air force's 60th anniversary, killing one of the pilots, officials said.

The two Israeli-built Kfir jets crashed in the western district of Gamapah, a government statement said. One pilot was killed and the other survived after ejecting from his plane.

The cause of the crash was not immediately announced.

Police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said no casualties to residents on the ground or damage to property has been reported. The area is about 22 miles (35 kilometres) northeast of the capital, Colombo.

Athula Priyantha, a resident in the district, said burning debris from one plane was strewn across a nearby open patch of land, while the second jet crashed a few miles (kilometres) away.

Kfir jets were widely used by the air force during Sri Lanka's civil war with the Tamil Tiger rebels, who were fighting for an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils.

Government troops crushed the rebels in May 2009, ending a decades-long civil war that killed an estimated 80,000-100,000 people.