Ejected Pilot Survives Crash, Dies During Rescue Accident

A fighter pilot who survived the crash of his training jet plunged to his death with a rescuer Wednesday after a cord broke as they were being pulled up to a helicopter, an Ecuador military official said.

The pilot, identified as Rafael Durango, and an unidentified co-pilot, had earlier ejected safely from their MK-89 Strikemaster before it crashed into a jungle near the Colombian border.

Ecuadorean military officials said two helicopters were sent to recover them.

But an air force official later said the rescue went awry as Durango and a rescuer were being lifted up to one of the hovering choppers.

"A cord that was attached to a helicopter broke and the pilot and one of the rescuers fell, dying in the rescue operation,'' the official said.

The second pilot was successfully rescued, the official said.

Colonel Hugo Lanas, an Ecuadorean air force spokesman, said earlier that the MK-89 Strikemaster was on a training mission in northeastern Sucumbios province when it crashed.

There is a heavy military presence in the area because of frequent incursions by Colombian guerrillas.

It was the Ecuadorean air force's second plane crash in less than a week.

On Thursday, a twin-engine Beechcraft 200 propeller plane crashed into an apartment building during a training exercise, killing seven people on board as well as two on the ground in northern Quito.

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