Vietnamese rescuers have found some pieces believed to belong to a search plane that went missing with nine people aboard while attempting to locate a pilot from a crashed fighter jet, state media reported on Friday.
The Thanh Nien newspaper said the pieces were discovered near the area where the maritime patrol aircraft Casa 212 lost contact with command center, some 44 nautical miles (81 kilometers) southwest of Bach Long Vi island, off the coast of northern port city of Hai Phong.
Meanwhile, online newspaper VnExpress quoted Maj. Gen. Nguyen Quang Dam, commander of the maritime police, as saying bad weather may be blamed for the aircraft’s crash.
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Dam said the crew asked to lower altitude when experiencing unexpected bad weather and crashed. Thanh Nien quoted weather forecaster Nguyen Dinh Thuat as saying there was rain and strong wind at the time the aircraft lost contact.
The nine people on board are among 1,500 personnel sent to search for the pilot, whose Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 MK2 jet fighter crashed Tuesday on a training flight. One other pilot from the jet was rescued by a fishing boat Wednesday.
The nine people included six officers and three military personnel, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement Thursday night, adding forces from inside and outside the ministry will be mobilized for search and rescue operations day and night. Officials were not available for comment on Friday.
The incidents were the latest in a string of accidents to hit the military. At least two crashes of military helicopters in the past two years have killed 24 people.