Behrampore/Dhaka, April 25: A training aircraft of the Bangladesh Air Force was forced to land in a field in Murshidabad’s Salar this evening.
Cadet Rasheed, who is in his early twenties, was safe and told police that he had run out of fuel after losing his way in a thunderstorm and entered Indian territory. The plane suffered minor damage.
“He (Rasheed) was forced to land because the aircraft ran out of fuel,” district superintendent of police Humayun Kabir said after a visit to the site.
A foreign office spokesperson in Dhaka said: “Bangladesh is in touch with India to get the pilot back.”
Another police officer said after questioning Rasheed that the pilot had circled in the air for a long time before running out of fuel.
Large patches of Murshidabad district and the areas just across the border in Bangladesh were lashed by thunderstorms this evening.
Sources in the foreign office in Dhaka said Rasheed had taken off from the Motiur Rahman air base in Jessore and was flying the PT-6 aircraft alone.
Villagers of Raigram village in the Salar area heard the plane roar past and saw it fly very low around 6.30 this evening.
Minutes later, the aircraft ploughed through the fields where oilseed is cultivated. “We saw the plane on the field and it was tilted on one side. When the plane landed, the sky was overcast and a storm was brewing. We looked inside the plane but we could not see anyone. Within 15 minutes, a thunderstorm started,” said Shah Jahan Ali, a resident of Raigram village.
The police arrived within 30 minutes after being informed by the villagers. Pilot Rasheed had initially walked away from the plane seeing the crowd. When the cops came, he introduced himself to them and was taken to the Salar police station for questioning.
“The pilot told us that he was a trainee and had taken off from the airbase around 4.30pm (IST). After flying for some time, he lost direction and flew into Indian territory. He was circling in the sky for a long time to find his way but force-landed after his plane ran out of fuel,” a senior officer said.
The police tonight arranged for generator-power lights at the site. “We have arranged for lights and also posted policemen in order to protect the aircraft,” Kabir, the district police chief, said.
Late tonight, the scene resembled a village fair, with thousands thronging the field to take a look at the aircraft.