Saturday, 10 November, 2007

Chinese Air Force plane crash kills 21

Two Chinese Air Force planes collided last Thursday, then crashed into a residential area and killed nearly two dozen airmen and civilians, area residents confirmed to Kyodo News on Friday.

According to a statement by the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, the Jan. 4 crash killed six villagers on the ground and 15 airmen who had been aboard a transport plane and a training jet that collided above Kaifeng County in the central province of Henan.

At least one injured survivor, whose entire family was killed when wreckage destroyed his home, was sent to a nearby Army hospital for ''urgent treatment,'' the rights group said.

The story has not been in the Chinese media, where censors keep a tight lid on all affairs involving the military.

But villagers who witnessed the disaster were horrified.

''It was so awful I couldn't bear to watch,'' one local businesswoman told Kyodo. ''The planes fell from the sky and ripped into the roofs of several houses, destroying five or six.''

Local newspapers and radio, however, have not mentioned the incident at all, she added.

The Chinese media also kept quiet after an Air Force fighter jet crashed in December just 100 meters from a residential district of the major east-coast city Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, according to the rights group.

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