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Ejecting South African pilot killed by truck

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) -- Two South African military pilots were killed on Wednesday after ejecting from a stricken jet fighter over a highway -- one of them hit by a truck as he parachuted to the ground, officials said.

The jet was flying near the northern city of Nelspruit when its pilots ejected, a Mpumalanga province police spokesman told the South African Press Association.

"It apparently developed engine trouble and the two pilots used their ejector seats," he said.

"The one who parachuted into the truck hit the windscreen of the vehicle before landing on the back. He apparently died on impact."

The second pilot was apparently killed when he landed on a rocky patch near the highway, SAPA said.

The South African National Defence Force said it was investigating the deaths. The Impala jet fighter had been on a low-level navigation exercise.

Many of South Africa's Impala jets have been in service since the mid-1970s. They are manufactured under licence from Italy's Aermacchi, majority-owned by Finmeccanica.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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