A Belgian Air Force F-16 reportedly crashed in western France on Thursday. Both crew members were able to eject, with the pilot’s parachute ultimately snagging a high voltage power line and leaving him dangling over a residential area near Pluvigner in Brittany, France. The F-16 clipped the roof of a nearby house before ultimately crashing into a field. According to a Belgian Air Force statement, the aircraft suffered unspecified engine trouble.
“The pilot and co-pilot were able to eject themselves from their seats before the crash. One is being looked after by the emergency services and the second has his parachute caught on a high-voltage power line,” a spokesman for the police in Morbihan, Brittany, told CNN.
The pilot remained suspended from the power lines for hours as he waited for rescue workers to arrive and safely cut him down. Part of the delay was caused by the need to cut power to the area in order to make it safe to approach the hanging pilot.
Breaking: A Belgian F-16 fighter jet has crashed in #Pluvigner in western France .
One of the pilots is caught on a high-voltage electricity line and rescue efforts are underway. pic.twitter.com/3HKrfxSsXU
— News_Executive (@News_Executive) September 19, 2019
The F-16 took off from Florennes air base in Belgium and was reportedly en route to a military airport in the French city of Lorient. As the aircraft went down, both pilots ejected and the wing of the plane tore through a portion of Ludovic Kauffer’s house in the town of Pluvigner, before continuing on to a nearby farm field where its crash sparked a fire that burned until emergency crews arrived on the scene to put it out.
“My mother is in shock, my father is too,” he told The AP. “The most important thing is that everyone is OK.”
Local news reports have said that more than 100 police officers and 40 firefighters responded to the incident, quickly suffocating the flames and recovering both crew members in good health. Nonetheless, nearby houses were evacuated as a precaution.
“A 500m security perimeter has been set up around the site of the air crash and @gendarmerie is on site to secure the area. 40 firefighters and 20 rescue vehicles of the SDIS of Morbihan are mobilized. The public is requested to respect this security perimeter,” the authorities said in a French-language statement posted on Twitter.