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Nine French among dead in fighter jet crash in Spain

Josema Moreno, AFP I Smoke rises from the Los Llanos military base after a figher plane crash in Albacete, on January 26
2 min

Eleven people were killed – including nine French nationals – and several injured after a Greek fighter plane crashed upon takeoff during NATO training in Spain on Monday.

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The F-16 crashed about 3:20pm (1420 GMT) as it took off at a training centre in Albacete, 260km (160 miles) southeast of the capital Madrid.

Television footage showed flames and thick black smoke billowing from the crash site, as sirens wailed in the background.

“The plane, part of the Tactical Leadership Programme of NATO, was carrying out a (training) exercise when during take-off the plane lost power, crashing into the parking area for planes, crashing into various planes that were parked there,” Spain’s defence ministry said in a statement.

Two pilots on board were among the dead. Other pilots and mechanics were underneath the plane in the parking area when it crashed, Spanish media reported.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in a live interview with Telecino television that there were eight French and two Greek citizens among the victims.

“It appears that there were two Greek nationals and eight French among the dead,” the he said.

On Tuesday, a French serviceman who was severely injured in the crash died  at a hospital in Madrid, bringing the death toll from the accident to 11.

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Following the crash, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that he was “deeply saddened”.

“This is a tragedy which affects the whole NATO family. I express my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones and the nations of those who lost their lives, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.

Five of the injured were taken to a specialist burns unit at La Paz Hospital in Madrid while the others were treated at a hospital in Albacete.

The base has housed a training centre for NATO pilots since 2010, according to its website.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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