Two pilots killed in Russian strategic bomber crash

A Russian Tupolev Tu-95 turboprop-powered strategic bomber flies above the Kremlin in Moscow, on May 7, 2015, during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade (AFP Photo/Alexander Nemenov)

Moscow (AFP) - Two pilots were killed when a strategic bomber with seven people on board crashed in far eastern Russia on Tuesday, the defence ministry said, the latest in a string of military aircraft accidents.

"The search and rescue team of the eastern military district has found where two members of the Tu-95 bomber landed," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.

"Both pilots were killed," the defence ministry said in the statement carried by Russian news agencies.

"According to reports from the scene, the pilots were killed during landing," said the statement.

The defence ministry had earlier said that the jet's seven crew members, who were taking part in a training flight outside of the city of Khabarovsk, had managed to parachute out.

The bomber was not carrying a combat payload at the time of the incident and the crash caused no damage on the ground, the defence ministry said.

The five surviving crew members have been sent to a military hospital in Khabarovsk to undergo medical examinations. Their lives are not at risk, said the defence ministry.

All Tu-95 bombers have been grounded until the circumstances surrounding the latest incident have been elucidated, the ministry said.

Over the past weeks, the Russian military has reported numerous accidents that have raised questions about the safety of the country's military aircraft.

In June, the army reported an accident involving a similar Tu-95 jet whose engine caught fire during take-off in the far eastern Amur region.

Earlier this month, two pilots of a Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft were killed when it crashed during a training mission in the far east of the country.