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Pilot radio error sparks evacuation

The US Capitol and surrounding buildings were evacuated and fighter jets scrambled after an airliner flying into Washington's Reagan Airport went out of radio contact.

Federal officials said the alert was caused by the pilot inadvertently turning his radio to the wrong frequency.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman Jim Peters said the agency was reviewing the "pilot readback error".

The FAA said Piedmont Airlines flight 4352 from Hilton Head, South Carolina, was on course for Reagan National Airport when it lost radio contact with air traffic controllers at a regional radar facility in Virginia for about 15 minutes.

This led officials to dispatch fighter jets and also evacuate all House and Senate office buildings.

The evacuation order was issued at around 1.30pm (1830 GMT) and was called off about half an hour later when the plane landed.

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