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Myanmar fighter jet crashes into lake, killing pilot

BANGKOK (AP):  A Myanmar fighter jet on Wednesday crashed into a lake in the country's northwest, state-run media reported, blaming the incident on a technical malfunction.

The crash took place in a region where there is active combat between Myanmar's army and forces opposed to army rule. The military later said in a statement the pilot had died.

State-run MRTV said the plane crashed into a lake 16 km (10 miles) north of the town of Sagaing. The jet lost contact with a military air base at Tada-U in neighbouring Mandalay Region at 10:43 am as it was beginning its training maneuvers, the report said.

A local rescue worker said body parts found at the crash site were taken away by a military helicopter. He said the crashed plane was a Chinese-made model, painted in the standard blue colour favoured by the air force.

The rescue worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said there were no reports of casualties on the ground.

A local resident, who also asked that his name not be used to avoid recriminations from the government, said villagers heard a very loud sound of the plane crashing near the southeastern shore of the lake.

Sagaing Region one of seven administrative regions in Myanmar, plus its capital city is a stronghold of armed resistance to the ruling military, which seized power in February last year from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Opposition to the takeover was initially peaceful, but the use of lethal force by the authorities escalated the conflict to what some some UN experts have described as a civil war.

Major offences by the military, including air strikes, have driven many thousands of people from their homes and caused an unknown number of civilian casualties.

Most combat aircraft in Myanmar's military come from China or Russia, which also supply other armaments. Many Western nations maintain an arms embargo, in addition to other sanctions.

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