Two dead in Boeing 747 cargo jet crash off Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — A pilot and co-pilot died after an Asiana Airlines cargo plane crashed early Thursday in the sea off South Korea’s Jeju Island, the Coast Guard told Yonhap News Agency.

The Coast Guard said one of its patrol boats found debris from the aircraft operated by South Kor

ea’s second-largest flagship carrier in waters about 66 miles west of Jeju city, Yonhap reported.

The plane had reportedly left from South Korea’s Incheon International Airport and was bound for Pudong in China.

Asiana officials got a report early Thursday morning from the pilot that the Boeing-747, which was southwest of the southern resort island, was having mechanical difficulties and would try to make its way to the island’s airport, Jason Kim, a spokesman for Asiana Airlines, said.

Officials then lost contact with the plane and asked the Coast Guard to investigate, Kim said. The airline also sent its own emergency specialists to the area.

Kim said he had seen media reports about the crash but was waiting for a final investigative report from the Coast Guard and Asiana officials at the site before confirming anything.

South Korea has been lashed with extraordinarily heavy rain this week, with landslides and floods killing dozens and causing havoc. But Kim said it was unclear whether the weather had caused any problems for the plane.

North and South Korea are in a tense military standoff across their heavily armed border, but there was nothing to immediately indicate that the crash had any military connection.

Asiana Airlines was in the news recently when two South Korean marines fired rifles at an Asiana plane carrying 119 people last month.

South Korea’s military later apologized, saying the marines mistook the plane for a North Korean military aircraft. The military said it planned to strengthen training so troops can better distinguish civilian planes. Officials said the plane wasn’t in range of the rifle fire.

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