HANOI, Vietnam – Vietnamese rescuers have found pieces of a search plane that went missing with nine people aboard while attempting to locate a pilot from a crashed fighter jet, the military said Friday.
The pieces including wreckage with the logo of the search plane, a tire, a seat and personal belongings of crew members were discovered 20 nautical miles (23 miles or 37 kilometers) southeast of Bach Long Vi island and 3 nautical miles east of the demarcation line between Vietnam and China in the Gulf of Tonkin, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
The plane lost contact with its command center early Thursday afternoon.
Online newspaper VnExpress reported that the body of the missing fighter jet pilot, Lt. Col. Tran Quang Khai, was found Friday afternoon by a fisherman off the coast of the northern province of Thanh Hoa. It said the body was found wrapped in a parachute.
One other pilot from the Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 MK2 jet fighter, which crashed Tuesday on a training flight, was rescued by a fishing boat on Wednesday.
About 1,500 personnel were sent to search for the pilot.
Reports said bad weather may have been responsible for the crash of the search plane. VnExpress quoted Maj. Gen. Nguyen Quang Dam, commander of maritime police, as saying the crew had asked to descend to a lower altitude because of the weather.
Officials were not available for comment Friday.
The crashes were the latest in a string of accidents to hit the military. At least two crashes of military helicopters in the past two years have killed 24 people.