Four killed in South Korean plane collision in mid-air

SEOUL (Reuters) – Two South Korean Air Force planes collided in mid-air on Friday during a training exercise, killing four pilots, authorities said.

Quoting local government officials, Yonhap News Agency said 130 soldiers, 95 police and 60 firefighters, as well as three helicopters, have begun searching the crash site.

The Air Force said the crash occurred about six kilometers (3.7 miles) south of the KT-1 aircraft base in the southeastern city of Satchon at about 1:37 pm (0437 GMT).

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“Despite their emergency escape attempts… the two student pilots and flight instructors on board the planes were both killed,” it said in a statement.

President Moon Jae-in offered his condolences to the families of the victims.

The Air Force said there were no civilian casualties but it has formed a team to determine the cause of the accident and the damage, including resident residents.

The crash site is located in a largely agricultural area, and photos released by Yonhap showed smoke billowing from a mountain, and one car was wrecked by shrapnel while parked in front of a farm.

The KT-1 is a single-engine basic trainer and light attack aircraft jointly built with the state-run Defense Development Agency and contractor, Korea Aerospace Industries.

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(Reporting by Hyunhyun Shin Editing) By Clarence Fernandez, Mark Potter and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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