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Swiss fighter jet crashes, 2 crew missing

GENEVA (AP) — A Swiss F/A-18 two-seater fighter jet crashed in poor weather in central Switzerland and the pilot and a passenger were missing, the military said Wednesday.

The Swiss Federal Department of Defense confirmed the fighter jet went down around noon near a military airport in Alpnachstad in the Lake Lucerne region. Swiss Air Force Commander Lt. Aldo Schellenberg told reporters the plane was one of two F/A-18s that had taken off from the Meiringen air base in canton (state) Bern on a training mission.

The other plane, a one-seater, returned safely to Meiringen a couple hours later. Armed Forces Chief Lt. Gen. Andre Blattmann said the images collected so far from the crash raised fears that the two missing crew had not survived. "There's no hard evidence, but we cannot be confident," he said.

Military officials said the fighter jet was unarmed when it hit a cliff overlooking Lake Alpnach. It also wasn't clear whether the ejector seat was activated. A helicopter and emergency services were deployed at the crash site. A nearby railway line and road were closed.

In the mid-1990s, the Swiss Air Force acquired more than 30 of the F/A-18s. This is the second crash involving one of the fleet. The last jet went down in 1998 in the Swiss Alps, killing the two pilots and injuring several others.

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