A Romanian jet fighter has crashed during an air show, exploding in front of thousands of people. Images from the scene showed flames and thick plumes of smoke.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Lancer crashed at around 1:30pm local time on Saturday, around 10km (6.2 miles) north of Fetesti Airbase in Calarasi County, Romania, Cotidianul.ro reported, citing a Defense Ministry statement. The crash killed the pilot, 36-year-old Lieutenant-Commander Florin Rotaru.
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Witnesses told local television that the pilot may have chosen to crash in a nearby field as a way to avoid hitting crowds. Around 4,000 people were present at the air show, according to Reuters.
Images on social media show the moments after the crash, when the plane has erupted in flames.
A video also shows black smoke rising from the scene.
Following the crash, Defense Minister Mihai Fifor told Romania TV that the Romanian Air Force’s planes were all in “perfect working order,” and it was too early to speculate on the cause of the incident. However, Cotidanul.ro reported that 24 MiG aircraft have crashed since 1994. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Lancer is a supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft designed during the Soviet Union era by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau.