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ROC Central News Agency

2007-05-11 19:40:47

    Taipei, May 11 (CNA) An Air Force F-5F jetfighter crashed Friday morning into an army base used by Singaporean troops at Huko in Hsinchu County, killing the pilot and co-pilot and two Singaporean troops on the ground, according to Minister of National Defense Lee Jye.

    Lee, who rushed to the scene from Taipei City upon being informed of the accident, said nine other Singaporean soldiers on the ground were wounded in the crash, one of whom suffered serious burns and was taken to the Tri-Service General Hospital in Taipei.

    Chen Tien-mu, chief of the hospital's General Surgery Department, said the 23-year-old soldier, identified only by his surname of Chou, would have to stay in the hospital for at least two weeks and would need skin grafts.

    In Singapore, a statement issued by the Defense Ministry there said the plane crashed into a storeroom used by Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel stationed in Taiwan as part of the SAF's "unilateral training" program.

    Wu Chi-fang, a spokesman for Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense, said earlier in the day that the two-seater plane, which took off from Chihhang air base in Taitung, eastern Taiwan, crashed at 9: 38 a.m. during a rehearsal for the Hang Kuang 23 military exercises.

    The pilot and co-pilot who died in the crash were an instructor, Maj. Wei Tzu-yuan and an intelligence officer, Capt. Chang Chia-chun, the spokesman said.

    The crash caused a fire at the barracks housing the SAF soldiers undergoing training.

    The air force, which had 66 F-5Fs, and F-5Es in 1974 when the F-5E first went into service, grounded all 34 of the planes still in service for safety inspections immediately after the accident.

    The aircraft have been involved in 17 crashes in the last 19 years, killing 18 pilots, seriously injuring one and leaving four unaccounted for, according to statistics provided by Legislator Hsueh Ling.

    Lee said the Hang Kung 23 exercises will go on as scheduled despite the accident.

(By Maubo Chang)


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