Iran warplane crashes near dormant volcano: state media

Tehran, Dec 25 (AFP/APP): An Iranian military fighter jet crashed on Wednesday near a dormant volcano in the northwest of the country and its pilot was missing, official media reported.

State news agency IRNA said the jet went down at 9:00 am (0530 GMT) near Mount Sabalan, in the Lesser Caucasus range, and 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 appeared to show smoke rising above snow-capped peaks.

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

A search and rescue operation was 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 said in a statement on its website.

The official website of the army said search and rescue efforts had been 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.

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