US fighter jet crash kills two (Lead)

December 9th, 2008 - 6:57 am ICT by IANS  

Tom CruiseWashington/Los Angeles, Dec 9 (DPA) A US F/A-18 fighter jet crashed Monday into a San Diego, California, neighbourhood, killing at least two people and damaging two homes in the densely populated area, authorities said.The Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet was trying to land at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after a training mission when it went down about three kilometres northwest of the airfield, Marine Corps Corporal Francis Goch said.

San Diego Fire Chief Tracy Jarman confirmed two people on the ground were killed. Goch said the pilot safely ejected from the plane and was receiving medical attention. The Los Angeles Times, citing officials, reported three others living in a house that was hit were still missing.

Television images showed a thick pall of white smoke rising from the houses, and a tangles heap of wreckage lying in the tree-lined street. Witnesses reported hearing a loud explosion seconds before the crash, indicating that the pilot had ejected.

San Diego Police spokeswoman Monica Munoz said there were no munitions on the aircraft.

“The first thing I heard was an explosion like a gunshot which was the pilot ejecting followed seconds later by the crash,” local resident Ben Dishman told MSNBC. He estimated that the plane had hit two or three houses.

The pilot was returning to the base after landing and takeoff off exercises on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. The aircraft was a two-seater, but only one pilot was aboard.

The Navy and Marine Corps fly the F/A-18 and it’s the main aircraft for the Navy’s Blue Angels air show squadron. Miramar, located about 16 km north of downtown San Diego, was featured in the 1986 hit film “Top Gun”, starring Tom Cruise.

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