A Pakistan Air Force fighter jet F-16 during an air show in Karachi, Pakistan. File/Reuters
A Pakistani fighter pilot died on Wednesday when his F-16 jet crashed in a wooded area near the capital while practising aerobatic manoeuvres ahead of this month's National Day celebrations, Pakistan's air force said.
There were no casualties on the ground or damage to property, according to an air force statement. Pakistan's President Arif Alvi expressed his condolences to the family of the pilot, Noman Akram.
Footage on social media and local TV stations showed black smoke rising from a tree-filled area under overcast skies. One video appeared to show the plane pulling out of a steep dive before heading behind a hill, then the roar of the jet engine ends in a thump followed by a ball of fire.
Pakistani fighter pilot Wing Commander Noman Akram (circled) in a file photo.
Pakistani authorities rarely release details of military training crashes, which are relatively common. In January, an FT-7 jet trainer went down in the eastern Punjab province, killing the two pilots.
Last July, 19 people died when a Pakistani military aircraft crashed into a residential area on the outskirts of the garrison city of Rawalpindi, most of them in their homes.
The crash came ahead of the March 23 National Day celebration, which last year featured short- and long-range missiles, tanks, jets, drones and other hardware.
"A helicopter on a flying mission crashed late last night. Six personnel — including two army majors (both pilots) embraced shahadat (martyrdom) in the crash," the military said in a statement.
UK search and rescue authorities are taking part in the search of the crash site. Lakenheath is a Royal Air Force base that hosts the US Air Force's 48th Fighter Wing, known as the Liberty Wing. The base is about 80 miles (130 kilometres) northeast of London.
The bodies of the three occupants were found at about 1.30am (0030 GMT), an interior ministry statement said. France's Mediterranean coast has been hit by heavy rain over the last week that has led to serious flooding and widespread transport disruption.
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Several infrastructure projects and emissions from nearby refineries were the possible reasons, said a government official who did not want to be named as he was not authorised to talk to the media.
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