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U.S. F-16 crashes in South Korea, pilot safely ejects

SEOUL (Reuters) - A U.S. F-16 fighter jet crashed into the sea off South Korea's west coast on Wednesday and the pilot was rescued safely, a U.S. Air Force unit stationed in the country said, the second crash of an F-16 in just over a month in the country.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing experienced "an in-flight emergency" over the sea and crashed, the unit said in a statement.

The pilot, who ejected safely and was rescued about an hour later, is conscious and was transported to a medical facility for assessment.

The commander of the 8th Fighter Wing, Colonel Matthew Gaetke, thanked the South Korean rescuers who worked with the U.S. military on the recovery of the pilot and said the focus was now to find and recover the aircraft, it said.

The west coast city of Gunsan is home to one of the two main air bases used by the U.S. military in South Korea.

In December, another F-16 jet crashed while on a routine training flight and the pilot was rescued.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Ed Davies)