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Dhaka Tribune

Pilot missing after BAF fighter jet crashes in Bay

Update : 29 Jun 2015, 08:17 PM

Pilot of a Bangladesh Air Force fighter jet has gone missing after the aircraft crashed into the Bay of Bengal in Chittagong yesterday.

The missing pilot, Flight Lieutenant Tahmid Rumman, took off with the single-pilot fighter aircraft F-7MB 416 from BAF Zahurul Haque Base around 10:30am and was in contact with the airport control until 11:10am. Soon after losing contact, the aircraft crashed in the sea near Chittagong Port’s Outer Anchorage area – around six nautical miles off Patenga beach – around 11:30am, said Wing Commander Nur-E-Alam, manager of Chittagong airport.

Sentry Babul, who was guarding a civil merchant vessel named Alexander near the crash scene, said he was on duty on the vessel and witnessed the aircraft crashing into the sea.

“Seeing that, I called my brother Haider on phone, who was in Patenga. He informed the authorities concerned,” Babul said.

The locals tried to conduct a rescue operation in the sea but could not find the pilot due to high tide, he added.

Receiving the information, Bangladesh Coast Guard Ship Towfiq and Bangladesh Navy Ship Surovi rushed to the spot, where the coast guard found parts of the aircraft’s wings, said Bangladesh Coast Guard (East Zone) Public Relations Officer Lt Commander Durul Huda, also the commanding officer of CGS Tawfiq.

The coast guard, navy, air force, maritime authority and Chittagong Port Authority have been jointly conducting search for Tahmid in the crash site, but high tide caused by rough weather in the sea hampered the rescue operation, he told the Dhaka Tribune.

“We found some broken parts of the aircraft’s wings, which indicates that the pilot is somewhere nearby. We are trying our best to find him,” he added.

Flight Lieutenant Tahmid, from Chittagong’s Anwara upazila, is the eldest son of his parents, among three brothers and one sister. His family currently lives in Dhaka’s Shantibagh area. Tahmid joined Bangladesh Air Force five years ago, his younger brother Adnan Towfiq told the Dhaka Tribune.

His family first learnt about the incident when they saw a news report on television.

“My father is on his way to Chittagong right now, while my mother, who was at Cox’s Bazar, is also on her way to Chittagong. We are now waiting to hear from them,” Adnan said over phone.

The rescue operation was still going on when this report was filed.

BAF’s accident-prone aircrafts

There have been a number of reported crashes of BAF aircrafts, some of which were fatal.

The most recent one was on May 13 when a Mi-17 helicopter crash-landed at Chittagong airport, according to the BAF’s Facebook page. The accident injured three officials of the BAF Zahurul Haque Base, one of whom, Squadron Leader Shafayet, died a few days later.

On April 7, the nose gear of an FT-7 training aircraft of the air force collapsed while landing at Dhaka airport during a training mission. However, the pilot and co-pilot were not hurt.

On February 6, a PT-6 training aircraft crashed into a paddy field in Jessore Sadar upazila due to technical glitches; the pilots survived with minor injuries.

In 2013, two BAF pilots were killed as a training aircraft crashed on the western side of Barisal airport on July 26.

In 2005, a BAF trainee pilot crashed his aircraft in a neighbourhood on the outskirts of the capital, killing one person and injuring four others on June 8.

The pilot had ejected from the Chinese-made F-7 aircraft with minor injuries, but the house the jet crashed into was completely destroyed, while two adjacent houses were partly damaged. 

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