Two Chinese-made fighter jets flown by Myanmar’s air force crashed on Tuesday morning, killing both pilots and a young bystander and drawing attention to the accident-plagued record of one of Asia’s largest armed forces.
Officials said the planes, both single-seat F-7 fighters, apparently struck a broadcast tower. One plummeted into a rice paddy, while the other nose-dived near a famous Buddhist pagoda in the Magway region of central Myanmar.
Both jets broke into pieces upon hitting the ground around 7:30am, said Aung Moe Nyo, the chief minister of Magway, according to New York Rimes.
An 11-year-old girl, Thwal Zin Nyein, was killed when debris from one of the jets struck her as she was studying outside at a private school.
The chunk of the aircraft, which had instructions for the installation of a bomb affixed to it, scattered notebooks, rulers and pencil cases decorated with cartoons.
“The doctor said she passed away but I still can’t believe my daughter died like this,” said Khin Maung Phyu, her father. “She will always be alive in my heart.”
The bodies of the two pilots, Capt. Phyo Maung Maung and Capt. Hein Thu Aung, were in the wreckage, Aung Moe Nyo said.
“It was heartbreaking to see,” said Aung Moe Nyo, who visited the scene of the crashes and said one of the pilots had tried to eject by parachute.
Myanmar’s air force has suffered a string of fatal accidents over the past couple years, even as top brass have gone on an overseas spending spree.
Around 13 per cent of the nation’s budget is spent on its military.
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