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Iranian warplane crashes near dormant volcano

An Iranian military fighter jet has crashed near a dormant volcano in the northwest of the country and its pilot was missing, official media reports.

State news agency IRNA says the jet went down at 9:00 a.m. (local time) near Mount Sabalan, in the Lesser Caucasus range, and that it was a MiG-29 on a test flight after being overhauled.

Amateur video footage published on the social media accounts of various media outlets in Iran appear to show smoke rising above snow-capped peaks.

Fars news agency says the plane was found, but there was no trace of its pilot and that he could have ejected from the aircraft.

A search and rescue operation is underway for the pilot, who the army identified as Colonel Mohammadreza Rahmani, one of its most experienced fliers.

“Following the crash of a military plane in Ardabil (province), helicopter and rescue groups have been sent to the region,” Iran’s Red Crescent says in a statement on its website.

The official website of the army says search and rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather, with snow making areas impassable.

Iran’s third highest peak, Mount Sabalan, features a crater that turns into a lake at certain times of the year.

— AFP

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