Two missing as RAF jets crash in Scotland


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The Independent Online

A search was suspended last night for two missing aircrew after two RAF Tornado GR4 jets crashed off the coast of north-east Scotland. Rescue helicopters earlier recovered two personnel from the Moray Firth. They were taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. Their condition had not been confirmed last night.

A number of RNLI vessels and coastguard helicopters had been scouring the Moray Firth for signs of survivors.

All four aircrew were based at RAF Lossiemouth. Earlier, station commander, Group Captain Ian Gale, said search efforts would continue into the night while an investigation was been launched into how the accident happened.

He said: "This is a very serious incident. I am confident that the Tornado aircraft on this station are operated as safely as they possibly can be. However, today's incident is a stark reminder that the military operations and training we conduct are not without risk."

Tornado aircraft have been involved in other crashes in Scotland in recent years. In January last year two RAF crew were rescued after their Tornado GR4 jet came down in the sea off the west coast of Scotland. The crew, also from RAF Lossiemouth, ejected from the plane before it landed in the waters at Loch Ewe, near Gairloch, Wester Ross.

"This is clearly a very serious incident and my thoughts are with the loved ones of those affected," said Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond.

He added: "I understand rescue services have done all they can to help with the situation and offer my thanks to all those involved. The Scottish Government stands ready to offer any necessary assistance, and we will make a further statement once more details are confirmed."

Moray MP Angus Robertson, the SNP's defence spokesman, said: "The priority must now be for the support of the affected families and for the authorities to investigate the causes of this incident and ensure the future safety of flying operations and personnel."

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The search was called off due to bad weather and the intention is to go back up when the weather clears."