21:56 GMT +318 August 2019
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    Fighter Jet Crashes Off Key West, Florida - US Navy (PHOTOS)

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    A US Navy F-18 Hornet crashed in the water on the Naval Air Station Key West property late Wednesday afternoon. The two pilots ejected and were later found, according to the US Navy.

    Rescue crews recovered both pilots after search and rescue efforts and they were taken by ambulance to Lower Keys Medical Center, the US Navy reported Wednesday evening. Their condition has not been revealed.

    According to Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokesman, Adam Linhardt, the pilots ejected from the jet around 4:30 p.m. near the naval air base in Boca Chica Key. Commander Dave Hecht, a spokesman for Naval Air Station Key West, also confirmed that the pilots ejected from the jet.

    Hecht told Local News 10 before the pilots were found that he was unable to comment on whether anyone sustained injuries in the crash. "I can confirm we have an F/A-18 down," Hecht said. "It was doing some training off of Key West."

    "The pilot ejected," he said, adding that search and rescue efforts had been launched.

    Witnesses claim that the plane appeared to explode in the air, the Miami Herald reported. Navy officials say search and rescue efforts were launched.

    ​Florida Keys marina owner Barbie Wilson told Local News 10 that the F-18 caught fire in the air and then appeared to crash nearly one mile from the runway.

    Photos posted on Twitter showed a rescue helicopter hovering over the F-18. Wilson said that divers are in the water, contributing to the rescue effort. 

    "These jets have been flying all day. I live in the neighborhood and so one was flying over. Then it went a little sideways, then I saw fire, and then it just literally dropped out of the sky," Wilson told Local News 10. "It was like something out of a movie."

    The Navy says a probe has been launched into the cause of the crash. 

    The jet was part of Virginia-based Strike Fighter Squadron 213. The squadron was completing a detachment to Naval Air Station Key West.

    The Naval Air Station Key West, established in 1940, is frequently used as a training facility for air-to-air combat fighter aircraft for all military branches.


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