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Second airshow crash in 24 hours

BIGGIN HILL, England -- The casualty toll from a series of air crashes over the weekend rose to 10 after a World War II fighter plunged to the ground and exploded in a ball of flames at an airshow.

The crash, on Sunday, was the second at the internationally renowed Biggin Hill airshow, in Kent, south-east Endland, in 24 hours.

An airshow spokesman confirmed the pilot of the American Bell King Cobra single-seater aircraft was killed, the Press Association said.

An eyewitness said: "It was flying in a flypast along the main runway and it just plummeted down into the middle of the airfield.

"There was a huge burst of orange flame and thick black smoke. Everyone stopped in a state of shock.

"It was around 100 yards away from the crowd. There is no way that anybody could have walked out of that alive."

Two men died on Saturday when their De Havilland Vampire crashed while performing a display at the airshow.

In another incident on Sunday, a twin-engine aircraft with five people on board crash-landed in a field near the village of Gratwich, in Staffordshire, England.

A Staffordshire Ambulance Service spokeswoman said all five people on board had been taken to hospital although the extent of their injuries was not known.

Earlier, it was revealed that a married couple from Britain died when their light aircraft plunged into a mountainside in thick fog in northern Italy on Sunday.

Police said the accident happened at around 11:30 a.m. (0930 GMT) near the city of Alessandria, 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Turin.

"The conditions at the time were fairly bad. There was a lot of fog and although we don't know for definite yet, it appears that was the cause of the crash," a spokesman for the Caribinieri police said.

He named the couple as Gordon Charles Gray, 68, and his wife Jennifer Mary Gray, 63 who had been en route to Cannes in southern France aboard a Cessna DR-25 after taking off from Venice.

On Saturday, five people were killed when a helicopter crashed after hitting high-voltage power lines in Russia's Far East.

The RIA news agency quoted the Emergencies Ministry as saying the small MI-2 helicopter was carrying out a forest fire patrol near the port of Sovetskaya Gavan.

It said five passengers had been killed and the pilot was taken to hospital in a serious condition.

• Bell King Cobra (WWII avionics)
• Biggin Hill Airshow
• Kent Police
• De Haviland Vampire
• UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch
• Civil Aviation Authority

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