Greek F-16 Crash Kills 11 During NATO Exercise

Fighter crashed on takeoff, triggered airport fire.

Eleven people were killed and close to two dozen more injured on Monday when a Greek F-16 crashed shortly after takeoff during a NATO exercise in Albacete, Spain.

The F-16 was taking off from Los Llanos Air Base around 3:30 p.m. local time when it crashed into a hangar housing French and Italian aircraft preparing to engage in the training exercise. The impact triggered several explosions and a massive fire that sent black smoke billowing into the sky. Emergency personnel were initially precluded from entering the area due to the possibility of fuel tank explosions, and once they gained access it took an hour to put out the flames.

The dead include the two Greek pilots aboard the F-16 along with nine French nationals. In addition to the 11 killed, 20 were injured, some with severe burns.

According to officials, at least five jets as well as several helicopters suffered damage as a result of the crash.

While the cause of the accident is under investigation, many European media sources have reported that the jet "lost thrust" on takeoff before the accident. On Tuesday Greece's defense ministry announced a three-day mourning period for the deceased pilots.

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