Fringe candidate in UK election escapes with minor injuries after light aircraft crashes

LONDON (AP) — A leading candidate for Britain's right-wing U.K. Independence Party survived a plane crash Thursday without serious injuries.

The pilot also escaped serious harm when the plane went down in a small airfield while towing an election banner about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of London.

Nigel Farage, a former leader of the party and its candidate in the area, was shown covered in blood in photographs from the crash site, which also showed the plane upside down and the cockpit smashed in.

"Looking at the wreckage behind me, I think you can make your own judgment as to how lucky they were," Detective Chief Inspector Martin Kinchin of Northamptonshire Police said at the scene.

Farage suffered two broken ribs, a chipped spine and possible damage to his sternum, according to the party's European office in Brussels.

"Both the pilot and I had a miraculous escape, and we are lucky to be alive," Farage said. He was taken to a local hospital and then transferred to a larger facility in nearby Oxford. The hospital said he would likely remain there for a few days.

Rescuers were forced to cut pilot Justin Adams out of the plane before airlifting him to a hospital in Coventry, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) away. The party said his injuries were less serious than initially feared, but it did not elaborate.

The plane had been hired for an election-day stunt, towing a party banner which read "Vote for your country — Vote UKIP" over the constituency where Farage is running for a seat in Britain's House of Commons. He is a member of the European Parliament.

The party advocates Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. Farage is standing against John Bercow, a Conservative who is the speaker of the House of Commons. According to tradition, the main parties do not run candidates against the speaker.