Kemaman swamp focus of search for missing RMAF aircraft

KEMAMAN: The search for a missing RMAF Hawk 108 aircraft is focused on an area about two kilometres from where the bodies of the two pilots of the fighter jet were found yesterday near Kampung Yak Yah here.

A source said the jet is believed to have crashed there after it went missing 30 minutes upon taking off from the Kuantan Airbase in Pahang at 11am yesterday.

RMAF officers and personnel from Kuantan, reporters from the various media organisations and several members of the public were seen in the vicinity.

The RMAF officers have stretched a yellow tape for up to 200m to prevent people from entering the area.

A villager, Azman Samad, 47, said the airspace above the area was often used by RMAF aircraft on training flights.

"We usually hear the jets zoom past here," he said to Bernama.

Azman said that at about 11.30am yesterday, at about the time that the aircraft was reported to have gone missing, he was at home and heard the sound of a jet and then a loud explosion.

"I thought that the RMAF was conducting a training flight and that the explosion was a signal that the session had ended," said the security guard who had been living in the village for nine years.

Azman said he saw the news of the missing aircraft on Facebook and at about 2.30pm heard police and ambulance sirens and a helicopter circling about a kilometre from his house.

"I rushed towards the sound of the sirens and saw many RMAF personnel, policemen and paramedics.

"They tried to enter the area where the aircraft and pilots were believed to be but returned to the road 30 minutes later after failing to find a route to the location where the pilots were believed to be.

"I learnt later that the two pilots were found dead in the swamp forest with parachutes still attached to their bodies. The bodies were flown by helicopter to hospital," he said.

Pilots Major Yasmi Mohamed Yusof, 39, and Major Hasri Zahari, 31, were killed in the accident.

At about 10am today, an RMAF helicopter hovered over the search area and landed nearby but took off at about 1pm.

Reporters and press photographers were not allowed into the mangrove swamp for safety reasons. — Bernama