KUANTAN — Two Royal Malaysian Air Force pilots were found dead today in a swamp forest in Chukai, Terengganu, after the Hawk 108 fighter jet they were flying went missing minutes after taking off from the RMAF airbase here.
The aircraft had yet to be found five hours after it went missing but it is believed to have crashed in the swamp forest in Chukai.
Chief of Air Force Gen Datuk Seri Affendi Buang disclosed that the pilots were Major Yasmi Mohamed Yusof, 39, and Major Hasri Zahari, 31.
He said their bodies were found at 2.30pm in the forest 53 km north of the Kuantan airbase. The aircraft had taken off from the airbase at 11 am and went missing 30 minutes later.
The bodies of the pilots were found with the parachutes still attached to them, he said, indicating that they had ejected from the aircraft.
“The bodies were found 20 metres apart. However, the aircraft has yet to be found. A search is ongoing,” he said at a press conference at the RMAF base here.
Affendi said the bodies of the pilots were in the process of being brought out of the swamp forest and would be flown by helicopter to the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital here.
He said Yasmi was from Kuala Lumpur and had served the RMAF for 19 years while Hasri was from Jempol, Negeri Sembilan, and had been in the force for 13 years.
“The two were experienced pilots. Yasmi had also been a flight instructor for the past six years while Hasri was an operations pilot,” he said.
Affendi said the pilots, who were from the No. 6 Squadron at the RMAF Labuan base, were on flight training and were scheduled to land at the Kuantan RMAF base this evening after having taken off at 11am.
He said the families of the two pilots, in Labuan and Kuantan, had been informed of the tragedy.
Yasmi had six children while Hasri had one, he added.
“We will ensure that the welfare of the pilots’ families is given high priority,” he said.
Affendi said that the RMAF had temporarily grounded the Hawk 108 fighter jet pending an investigation into the tragedy.
“I have also ordered the setting up of a special investigation body to probe the accident,” he said, adding that the last accident involving a similar aircraft was in Mersing, Johor, more than 10 years ago.