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Belgian fighter crashes during flight to French naval base, aviator snagged on power line

PARIS — A Belgian F-16 fighter jet crashed Thursday in western France, damaging a house, setting a field ablaze and leaving an aviator suspended for two hours from a high-voltage electricity line after his parachute got caught, according to French authorities.

Belgium's Defense Ministry said the plane suffered unspecified engine trouble.

Emergency workers extracted the aviator safely after cutting off power in the area, and he was been taken to a nearby hospital for medical checks, a spokesman for the regional administration told The Associated Press.

No one on the ground was hurt. Surrounding homes were evacuated as the aviator was being taken down and firefighters battled the blaze from the crash.

A rescue vehicle, partially hidden, parks near the site of a jet crash near Pluvigner, western France, on Thursday. (David Vincent/AP)
A rescue vehicle, partially hidden, parks near the site of a jet crash near Pluvigner, western France, on Thursday. (David Vincent/AP)

The aviators flagged an “engine technical incident” while traveling from Florennes air base in Belgium to the military airport in the French city of Lorient, the Belgian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

It did not elaborate.

One of the plane's wings sliced the roof and facade of a house in the town of Pluvigner, in Britanny, before plunging into a neighboring farm field, said Ludovic Kauffer, who lives in the house.

Kauffer was at work at the time of the morning accident, but his parents were home and described to him the "booms" of the crash.

"My mother is in shock, my father is too," he told The AP. "The most important thing is that everyone is OK."

The plane was traveling from Belgium to a naval air base in France when it came down between the towns of Pluvigner and Landaul, according to a statement from the regional prefecture, or administration.

Two aviators were on board the aircraft, and both ejected before the crash. One was safely rescued but the other got stuck on the power line.

The plane itself was not armed, the statement said.

Local newspaper Le Telegramme showed images of an aviator hanging from the line, black smoke and flames rising from the area and a damaged house.

A national police spokeswoman said about 100 police surrounded the crash site and are investigating what happened.

Belgian air safety investigators will head to France to join the probe.

Samuel Petrequin in Brussels contributed to this report.

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