Turkish and Greek fighter planes collide in mid air

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Aegean Sea.

Two fighter planes, a Turkish F-16 plane and a Greek F-16 collided in mid air and crashed into the Aegean Sea. The location of the crash is approximately 10 miles east of Karpathos, a Greek island in the southern part of the Aegean Sea.

Yiannis Papageorgiou a spokesman for the Greek Air Force says that the Greek F-16 was dispatched to intercept and identify the Turkish plane that according to Papageorgiou was violating the Athens Flight Information Region, when the two planes collided.

The Greek Defense Ministry said earlier "the planes collided during interception manoeuvres above Karpathos. We don’t know what has happened to the Greek pilot yet." A passing merchant ship rescued the Turkish pilot, Halil Ibrahim Ozdemir, who refused to be rescued by Greek frogmen. The Greek pilot was killed in the incident.

Vecdi Gonul, Defense Minister for the Turkish government released a partial statement saying, "we’re still waiting for definite information and our Chief of Staff is speaking to the Greek Chief of Staff."

Puma helicopters as well as rescue personnel have been dispatched to the area.

When the event became known, Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gül communicated immediately with his counterpart, Dora Bakoyiannis in order to have a first conversation regarding the fighter planes' crash.

Both countries disagree on the boundaries of their airspace over the sea and fighters sometimes conduct mock dogfights in the area between the two countries.