The crew of a French fighter jet that crashed Wednesday has been found dead, the country’s air force has confirmed.
A search was launched for Captain Baptiste Chirié and Lieutenant Audrey Michelon after debris from their Dassault Mirage 2000D was found in the mountainous Jura region of eastern France.
The crew were on a routine low-altitude training flight when radar contact was lost on the morning of January 9, the French air force said in a statement. The jet, which belonged to the Nancy-Ochey Air Base, was flying over the mountainous region between the Doubs and Jura areas.
Chirié had 940 hours of flying experience and had taken part in 24 war missions, said air force chief of staff General Philippe Lavigne, while Michelon had taken part in 97 war missions and had 1250 hours of experience.
During a press conference Thursday, air force spokesman Colonel Cyrille Duvivier said the jet’s wreckage had been found, as well as fabric that was likely to belong to a parachute.
“On this type of fighter jet you have two types of parachute, one for the crew in the ejector seat and the jet’s parachute, which can be used to brake once it lands,” Duvivier explained.
The air force did not detect a distress signal from the jet, he added; a signal is usually triggered when a pilot ejects.
The search for the missing crew members was restarted at 8 a.m. on Thursday, with 138 police officers involved in the operation, a spokesman for the national police said. Speaking to radio station France Bleu, a rescue worker said the site of the crash “wasn’t an easy area to access.”
The Metz public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the incident, a spokeswoman told CNN.