SEAPLANE CRASHES INTO THE SEAStaff Reporter
TWO Spanish Air Force sergeants died and a captain and lieutenant were injured when their Canadair plane crashed into the sea at the Port of Pollensa.
The accident, the second fatal air crash in Majorca in three months, occured at approximately 10.41am yesterday morning when the plane, a Canadair CL-215 of the Spanish Air Force, was performing manoeuvres near the air base at the Port of Pollensa. The exercise involved tracing and rescuing crew members who had fallen into the sea.
The plane is one of those used for fighting forest fires and it was carrying out exercises near the ship Pollensa II and a helicopter whose crews witnessed the accident. The two sergeants were named as José Ramón Fábrega Salas, who was aged 33, and Manuel Fernández Carrascosa, 32.
Captain José H L, aged 33, and Lieutenant Maria Ester I G, aged 27, were injured in the accident.
According to eye witnesses the plane spun out of control and crashed into the sea at great speed.
As a result of the crash, the plane overturned and split in two.
Boats rushed to the scene and the four occupants were taken to the military base.
The two sergeants were in critical condition and the captain and lieutenant were conscious despite their injuries.
One of the sergeants was pronounced dead at 11.08am and the second victim died nine minutes later.
The captain and the lieutenant, who were flying the plane, were treated at the base and were then taken by military ambulance to Alcudia hospital.
They had sustained bruising to various parts of the body and shock and one underwent surgery for a broken hand.
The Underwater Activities Group of the Guardia Civil, its Maritime Service and the Maritime Rescue Service inspected the accident site just off Sa Punt Avançada, where they inspected the remains of the plane and started work to recover the craft. The plane's tail was towed to the air base after two hours of work, and the rest of the plane is expected to be recovered shortly.
According to sources, a tourist recorded the aftermath of the crash and this video is now in the hands of Air Force specialists, who will analyse it as part of the investigation ordered by the defence ministry. Air Force sources said that the plane belonged to Group 43, based at Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid) and the exercise, code named Surmar (survival at sea) also involved Squadrons 801 and 802. The sources said it is still unclear whether or not the plane crashed into the sea or sank while engaged in a manouevre over the water.
The Canadair is a familiar sight over the island in the summer months, when it plays an invaluable role in fighting forest fires, which in recent years have devastated large parts of the island. They scoop up water from the sea and drop it over fires, in areas which are not easily accessed by land.
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