Marri Ramu

HYDERABAD: An Indian Navy aircraft participating in an aerobatic display as part of the India Aviation 2010 exhibition at the Begumpet airport crashed into a building in the densely populated Bowenpally locality here on Wednesday. Two pilots and one unidentified person on the ground were killed instantly. Two residents of the two-storey building, a mother and son, were injured. Hyderabad could be said to have escaped a bigger catastrophe: had the aircraft fallen even a few metres away, the casualty figure would have been much higher.

The pilot was Suresh Maurya and the co-pilot Rahul Nair. C. Vijayeshwari (38) and Shyam Krishna (16) were hospitalised.

The crash occurred soon after Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel inaugurated the event and moved on to the tarmac to witness the display. Four aircraft were flying in formation and had done difficult manoeuvres, when one of them broke off. As a battery of cameramen filmed the scene, the aircraft crashed: from the airport, a thick plume of smoke was visible in northern Hyderabad. The aircraft spiralled out of control and smashed into the second floor of the building which had 10 tenements. Vijayeshwari and Shyam Krishna were at home when the plane rammed it. As a green liquid from the aircraft drenched them, they jumped on to the roof of a neighbouring building. Minutes later the roof of their house collapsed. Eyewitnesses said the co-pilot tried to eject. His mangled body was found a few metres away with the chute strapped on. The other pilot's body was also mutilated. A shocked P. Suguna, who was drying green chillies on the terrace when the wreckage fell on her, said: “I fell on my back. And then a body fell next to me.”

The Navy announced the grounding of all HJT-16 Kiran MK-II aircraft which form part of the Sagar Pawan Aerobatic Demonstration Team. It ordered an inquiry.

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