2 men waved at me, then ‘a loud thud’, says villager who saw pilots


KEMAMAN: A witness who caught a glimpse of two pilots on parachutes who plunged to their deaths after their 108 Hawk fighter jet crashed said she had seen one of them making a cross sign with his hands in her direction.

Siti Zamilah Mohd Hussin, 27, said she was sweeping the courtyard of her house on a hill in Kampung Pondok Pasir here at about 12.30pm when she spotted the two men on parachutes.

“I saw one of them tugging at his parachute rope and making a cross sign with his hands in my direction. I responded by waving at them because I thought the two men were involved in parachute training,” she told reporters here yesterday.

She said she saw the two pilots plunging into the area behind the house, after which she heard a loud thud.

At 2.30pm, the pilots, Major Yasmi Mohamed Yusof, 39, and Major Hasri Zahari, 31, were found dead.

Their fighter jet vanished from radar about 30 minutes after they had taken off from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Kuantan base at 11.30am.

Their bodies were found in a swamp area in Kampung Pondok Pasir, adjacent to Kampung Yak Yah in Ibok here.

Ali Mohamad Mohd Hussin, 37, who lives in the same neighbourhood, said he heard two loud bangs while sitting in front of his house.

“I heard the sound twice, then everything went quiet. I tried to look around but saw nothing. A few hours later, I saw a helicopter hovering in the vicinity of my house,” he said.

Another witness, Hafizuddin Yunus, 32, said he saw the fighter jet flying low before it began emitting thick smoke.

At the time, he said he was riding a motorcycle and could see the jet clearly, about 1,000 feet above the ground. He heard its engine roaring noisily before it headed towards the Tasik Buku and Seri Bando forest reserve area near here.

“I saw the jet was descending as if it was going to crash but then it disappeared before thick smoke billowed,” he said.