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Disaster averted as fighter jet crashes in US suburb

Residents of a Washington suburb had a lucky escape when a US fighter jet crashed during a training mission.

The DC Air National Guard F-16C plane went down about 200 yards from homes in the middle-class community of Clinton, about six miles south-west of Joint Base Andrews.

The pilot ejected unharmed, and no injuries were reported on the ground, Prince George's County Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Mark Brady said. It was not immediately clear whether the plane was carrying live ammunition.

About 20 homes in the area were evacuated as a precaution because of the possibility that the crash released hazardous materials, Mr Brady said. Residents were later allowed to return home.

Crystal Hollingsworth, who lives nearby, said she heard a "huge crash" followed by the sound of "live rounds".

"You knew something tragic was going on," she said, adding that she thought it might be a terrorist attack.

Her husband, Tony Hollingsworth, said the "house shook" and he also heard the sound of gunshots in the woods, something that "sounded like a shoot-out". He said it lasted for 10 to 15 minutes.

Mr Hollingsworth said he saw a big fireball in the woods and the pilot's red and white parachute. Officials said the pilot was taken to hospital and was recovering well.

Mrs Hollingsworth said pieces of the plane fell in her neighbour's garden, damaging some of the home's siding. She said there were probably more than a dozen metal fragments, maybe about half an inch thick.

Tyrone Wolridge and his wife said it felt like an earthquake, adding they saw a plume of smoke.

"We could feel it. The house shook so bad. Then we heard a boom," he said.

AP

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