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Jet crashes during air show in Poland

Associated Press
Aug 31, 2009 at 01:54pm IST

Warsaw, (Poland): A Belarusian fighter jet crashed on Sunday during an air show in central Poland, killing both pilots on board the two-seater plane, officials said.

The Su-27 jet went down while performing maneuvers at a festival in Radom, 65 miles (105 kilometers) south of Warsaw.

Footage broadcast on state television in Poland showed the plane turning in the air, then dropping behind trees.

CRASH: A giant cloud of black smoke is seen after the jet hit the ground.

A giant cloud of black smoke appeared on the horizon. The Su-27 was not near the tarmac or crowds attending the air show when it crashed.

The two Belarusian pilots were killed, the air show's organizers said in a statement.

A joint Polish-Belarusian panel of experts was investigating the cause.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry said the crash was likely caused by birds becoming entangled in an engine.

When the plane began to lose altitude during a stunt flight, the pilots "did not eject and steered the plane away from the town, avoiding graver consequences at the cost of their lives," ministry spokesman Vyacheslav Remenchuk said.

He identified the pilots as Col. Alexander Morfitsky and Col. Alexander Zhuravlevich. He said Morfitsky was deputy commander of an air force unit in western Belarus, and Zhuravlevich was deputy commander of a fighter base.

The jet was one of two Belarusian planes taking part in the show. The other aircraft was a transport plane.

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