Croatia defense minister resigns after plane crash kills 2 air force members

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Croatia's defense minister resigned Thursday after a military training plane crashed in the southwest of the country, killing two air force members on board.

The incident is the second in three months. Damir Krsticevic, upon handing in his resignation, said "we have to be transparent" about the deaths.

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“It is our duty to be with the [victims’] families and we will give them the best possible help. I extend my condolences to all members of the Air Force and the Croatian Army. This is a huge loss for the Croatian Army. I today resign as Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister,” Krsticevic said.

A Croatian air force plane burns after crashing in Biljane, Croatia, Thursday, May 7, 2020. Croatia’s Defense Ministry says an air force training plane crashed and two crew members were killed during a routine training flight Thursday afternoon. (Diadora TV via AP)

A Croatian air force plane burns after crashing in Biljane, Croatia, Thursday, May 7, 2020. Croatia’s Defense Ministry says an air force training plane crashed and two crew members were killed during a routine training flight Thursday afternoon. (Diadora TV via AP)

In late January, another helicopter crashed, killing two pilots.

“Losing a Croatian soldier is very difficult. It is difficult for any defense minister and any Croatian Army commander," Krsticevic said, referencing the incident in his speech to the media.

The Croatian Defense Ministry ministry said the Zlin single-engine aircraft crashed at around 4 p.m. local time Thursday during a routine training flight.

Officials did not say what might have caused the plane to go down in a thinly-populated area near the central Adriatic town of Zadar, but Krsticevic said the case would be thoroughly investigated.

A Croatian air force plane burns after crashing in Biljane, Croatia, Thursday, May 7, 2020. (Diadora TV via AP)

A Croatian air force plane burns after crashing in Biljane, Croatia, Thursday, May 7, 2020. (Diadora TV via AP)

Photos from the scene show the small plane’s wreckage in flames, partly wedged under a large bush near the walls of what appears to be a private house.

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The plane had taken off from an airbase at Zadar.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.