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Debris of fighter jets found off central Vietnam as pilots still unaccounted for

Rescuers on Sunday lifted out of water some broken parts of one of the two Sukhoi Su-22 fighter jets missing off central Vietnam, while the search for the two pilots is still underway.

Rescuers on Sunday lifted out of water some broken parts of one of the two Sukhoi Su-22 fighter jets missing off central Vietnam, while the search for the two pilots is still underway.
Rescuers on Sunday lifted out of water some broken parts of one of the two Sukhoi Su-22 fighter jets missing off central Vietnam, while the search for the two pilots is still underway.

These pilots are Colonel Le Van Nghia and Captain Nguyen Anh Tu, both of Air Regiment 937, who went missing along with their planes during their training exercise on Thursday last week.

At 5:15 pm on Sunday, frogmen detected a 1m2 broken part of the cabin of one of the two warplanes along with two smaller pieces of wreckage that belonged to the body of either plane, Major General Do Minh Tuan, deputy commander of the Vietnamese Air Defense and Air Force, told VnExpress newspaper.

The cabin part was entangled in wires and other parts of the jet’s electric system, Major General Tuan said.

The wreckage was found 32 meters undersea between the two buoys that were dropped to mark the location where the two jets could have crashed, the official said, adding that they all were lifted later.

The finding of the debris indicated that the two planes may be lying 700-1,000 meters apart on the seabed, Tuan said.

Three military ships with advanced laser metal detectors and twelve more frogmen were sent to the area on Sunday to join the search.

A piece of wreckage of one of the two Su-22 fighter jets was lifted from the sea on April 19, 2015.

On Saturday afternoon, soldiers of Sapper Brigade 5 also found a glass frame of the cabin of one of the two planes and some other broken parts belonging to the aircraft, said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Hoang Van So, political chairman of the brigade.

Major General Tuan also said some broken parts of the wings of the Su-22 fighter jet that had been steered by Captain Tu have also been found.

Based on the outcome of the search, Sr. Lt. Col. So hoped that the two missing pilots, along with the black boxes of the two warplanes, would be found soon.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the pilots around 11:00 am last Thursday, when they were separately piloting the two Russian-built fighter jets over the waters between Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan Provinces, about 15km north of Binh Thuan’s Phu Quy Island.

The island is about 56 nautical miles (over 100km) southeast of Phan Thiet, the capital city of Binh Thuan.

These two jets, which took off from the Thanh Son military airport that morning, might have collided head-on with each other during their bombing drills, a source told VnExpress.

Yesterday former Party General Secretary Le Kha Phieu and Secretary of the Ninh Thuan Party Committee Nguyen Duc Thanh visited the family of Captain Tu.

The ex-Party leader told the family that the army and other forces are mobilizing all possible resources to search for the two pilots and the two planes.