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MiG-21 crashes in West Bengal, pilot safe

IAF officials inspect the remains of an MIG-29 aircraft that crashed in Siliguri, West Bengal on Friday. PTI photo

SILIGURI (PTI): A MiG-21 fighter jet of the Indian Air Force crashed on Saturday near Bagdogra in West Bengal minutes after take-off but the pilot ejected to safety.

The pilot, Squadron Leader Rahul Tiwari had taken off from Bagdogra airbase on the Russian-origin fighter aircraft and within minutes reported trouble in the aircraft.

The mishap took place at 15:50 hrs seven km away from Bagdogra airfield, IAF officials said.

Soon after the crash, an IAF rescue team on a Chetak helicopter flew to the accident site and rushed the pilot to a nearby military hospital, the officials said.

A court of inquiry has been ordered into the incident, they added. The sources said prime facie, it appears that the jet developed a technical problem soon after take-off.

This is the second mishap involving an IAF plane this year. On Tuesday, a MIG-27 fighter jet had crashed near Hashimara airbase, just a few kilometres away from Bagdogra.

However in that incident, the pilot Wing Commander Oswald was killed.

Last year, the IAF had recorded 11 air mishaps, of which five involved MIG-21 aircraft.

The MiG aircraft had earned the sobriquet of a "flying coffin" in the late 90s following a series of aircrashes.

However, to prove its worth, the then Defence Minister George Fernandes had flown in the aircraft in 2003.

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