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France: Crew Tried to Eject in F-16 Jet Crash That Killed 11

Smoke rises from a military base after a plane crash in Albacete, Spain, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. (Josema Moreno)/AP)
Smoke rises from a military base after a plane crash in Albacete, Spain, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. (Josema Moreno)/AP)

PARIS — The Greek crew of an F-16 fighter jet that crashed into parked planes at a Spanish air base, killing 11, tried to eject after a failed takeoff, the head of France's air force said Thursday.

Gen. Denis Mercier said the crash was accidental and no additional measures could have prevented it.

The two pilots aboard the F-16 and nine French servicemen on the ground died, and 21 people on the ground were injured, in what NATO called the worst crash during a NATO exercise in recent memory. Some of the injured are still hospitalized with severe burns.

The bodies of the French airmen were being flown from Spain to France Thursday.

Spanish investigators are probing what caused the jet to lose power during takeoff Monday and crash at the Los Llanos air base in southeastern Spain, triggering a series of explosions and a raging fire.

The Greek F-16 pilots and military personnel from six other NATO countries were taking part in an annual one-month training exercise called the Tactical Leadership Program.

Competition is fierce among experienced pilots to participate in the program aimed at advancing their tactical ability so they can command large numbers of planes in the air.

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Accidents Europe Spain