Fighter jet crash: one tail found underwater, pilots still missing

By Mai Thanh Hai, Thanh Nien News

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Navy divers at the location where a tail is found

The search for the pilots of two fighter jets believed to have collided and crashed yesterday off central Vietnam continues, with rescuers saying they have found a tail on the sea bed.
Navy divers found the tail 32 meters (100 feet) underwater in waters off Binh Thuan Province at 4.30 p.m., a source told Thanh Nien.
The two Russian-made Sukhoi Su-22 took off from Phan Rang Airport at 11.24 a.m. Thursday for a bombing run during an exercise in the East Sea, but lost contact at 11.35 a.m.
Major General Do Minh Tuan, Vice Commander of the Air Force, told Thanh Nien the crash site is about 10 to 15 kilometers southwest of Phu Quy Island.
The location of the tail was about 1.5 nautical mile from a floating target used in the exercise, the source told Thanh Nien.
The two pilots, identified as Lieutenant-Colonel Le Van Nghia and Captain Nguyen Anh Tu, are still missing.
Captain Tu’s father Nguyen Van Thi said his family is “very sad,” but hopes that the pilots are still “alive somewhere.”
The Defense Ministry said in a statement late Thursday that search teams had located three reserve fuel tanks.
The collision is the latest in a series of setbacks for Vietnam's military, which has seen two fatal helicopter accidents in the past nine months, killing a combined 24 personnel.

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