Stolen plane chased by military jets before crash

A plane has crashed after a US airline employee conducted an "unauthorised take-off" in Washington state, officials have said.

Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by two F-15 military jets near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport before it crashed near Ketron Island.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter that preliminary information suggested that a mechanic had stolen the aircraft.

Image: One of the F-15 jets in pursuit of the stolen plane

The tweet said the crash may have been caused by the 29-year-old employee "doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills".

It added: "This is not a terrorist incident. Confirmed info.. this is a single suicide male. We know who he is. No others involved."

The sheriff's department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the man, who they did not identify.

They added that the man could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he's "got a lot of people that care about me" and that he is "just a broken guy".

An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound. Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed.

— Sea-Tac Airport (@SeaTacAirport) August 11, 2018

The US Coast Guard said it has sent a 45ft vessel to the crash scene after reports of a large plume of smoke in the air.

Alaska Airlines confirmed that a 76-seater Horizon Air Q400 aircraft had been involved in the "unauthorised take-off" and it believed no passengers were on board.

Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the US west.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport officials said normal flight operations have resumed.

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:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

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