A fighter jet plunged to the ground and exploded as it took part in an air display at a show in northern China Friday, organisers and state media said.
China's state-run television CCTV showed images of the Chinese-made plane falling from the sky and bursting into flames when it hit the ground at the show in Shaanxi province.
The pilot managed to eject and was seen parachuting down, but a journalist at the scene said the parachute had not fully opened and it was unclear whether the pilot was injured when he landed.
He added there were no casualties on the ground.
It was unclear what type of fighter plane was involved in the crash. The official Xinhua news agency said it was a two-seat, fighter-bomber Flying Leopard -- or JH-7 -- a model officially launched in December 1988.
But CCTV said it was a Xiaolong ("Fierce Dragon") fighter jet -- or FC-1 -- which is the result of a joint Sino-Pakistani development programme that started in 1999.
"The plane had some malfunction and an investigation team has been sent to the scene," said a spokeswoman for the China International General Aviation Convention, the organiser of the air show held in Xian's Pucheng Neifu airport.
She told AFP she did not know what type of plane it was, adding she had no further details as the scene of the incident was far from the main air show venue.
Reporters for the official Xinhua news agency, who were present at the air display, said they saw heavy smoke billowing from the ground after the crash, but added the show was continuing.
According to the People's Daily newspaper, some 100 foreign and domestic planes are on display at the air show, and around 30 aircraft are putting on displays.
Hungarian, Swedish, US and Lithuanian aerobatic teams have been invited to participate in the three-day show, which is expected to attract around 100,000 people, it added.
The accident is the latest to hit China's air force.
In January 2007, a military aircraft crashed in a southern Chinese city after a mid-air explosion but the pilot survived, according to press reports.
In June of the previous year, an early warning aircraft crashed in China's eastern Anhui province, killing all 40 people on board -- an accident described as the "worst air disaster in the history of China's air force".
Two months before the Anhui crash, a jet fighter came down in the southern island of Hainan after a mid-air explosion.
And in 2004, a Chinese F-7 fighter jet on a training mission over central Hubei province crashed into civilian housing, resulting in the death of a child on the ground.
by Hasbanullah Khan
(c) 2011 AFP
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