Tehran, Dec 25, 2019 (AFP)
An Iranian military fighter jet crashed on Wednesday near a dormant volcano in the northwest of the country and its pilot was missing, official media reported.
State news agency IRNA said the jet went down at 9:00 am (0530 GMT) near Mount Sabalan, in the Lesser Caucasus range, and was a MiG-29 on a test flight after being overhauled.
Amateur video footage published on the social media accounts of various media outlets in Iran appeared to show smoke rising above snow-capped peaks.
Fars news agency said the plane had been found but there was no trace of its pilot and that he could have ejected from the aircraft.
A search and rescue operation was underway for the pilot, who the army identified as Colonel Mohammadreza Rahmani, one of its most experienced fliers.
"Following the crash of a military plane in Ardabil (province), helicopter and rescue groups have been sent to the region," Iran's Red Crescent said in a statement on its website.
The official website of the army said search and rescue efforts had been hampered by bad weather, with snow making areas impassable.
Iran's third-highest peak, Mount Sabalan, features a crater that turns into a lake at certain times of the year.