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Two Brazilian fighter jets collide during a security exercise for the Olympics

The Brazilian navy said that one of the pilots managed to land his plane safely, but the other crashed into the sea. A massive search for the second pilot is ongoing.

by Nathaniel Janowitz
Jul 27 2016, 4:40pm

Photo de Luiz Padilha via la marine brésilienne.

Two Brazilian fighter jets collided off the coast of Rio de Janeiro while on a training exercise designed to hone protection for the city's upcoming Olympic Games.

The Brazilian navy issued a statement after the collision on Tuesday saying that one of the pilots managed to land his plane safely, but the other crashed into the sea.

A massive search began for the second pilot and continued through the night and into Wednesday morning.

The navy statement said both the planes involved in the collision about 60 miles out to sea were AF-1B Skyhawks in the middle of "attack training" that also involved a frigate.

Brazilian media published a still image of the nose of the discarded plane sticking out of the water, reminiscent of the tip of an iceberg. Although there was no recording of the crash itself, a video showed a helicopter circling above a beach before landing while a pilot waited below.

The accident does not help Brazil's repeated insistence that it can guarantee the safety of the visiting athletes, dignitaries, and tourists already converging on Rio.

This is only the latest in a series of incidents damaging the reputation of the Games ahead of the August 5 opening ceremony.

Concerns about security were underlined last week when Brazilian police arrested a cell of alleged Islamic State sympathizers who police said were organizing a terrorist attack.

Homicides are currently up in Rio this year. Some 85,000 police officers and soldiers are due to provide security for the Games.

Police announced earlier this week that they had confiscated nearly a 100 baggies of cocaine branded with the multi-colored Olympic rings, as well as a warning to "use away from kids."

Several countries — most prominently Australia — complained publicly about unhygenic and unsafe conditions at the Olympic Village. Rio's mayor responded that he should put a kangaroo in front of the Australian building to "make them feel at home." When the Australians finally moved in on Tuesday they brought their own kangaroo, though a spokesman claimed it was not intended to be a taunt.

All this comes at a time when the nation struggles through a deep political crisis.

A massive anti-corruption investigation known as Lavo Jato, or Car Wash, has brought down leading figures from all Brazil's major political parties for alleged involvement in kickbacks from the state-run oil company Petrobras. The Brazilian senate temporarily suspended President Dilma Rousseff in May while she faces an impeachment trial in the senate for alleged creative accounting.

Rousseff, whose impeachment trial is set to begin during the Games, fired off a series of tweets on Wednesday morning confirming reports that she would not be attending the opening ceremony. "I will not participate as a spectator of an act in which I was a protagonist" she said in one of her messages. Rousseff had been invited but not to the VIP balcony where President Michel Temer — her former vice president who has taken over her job — will be sitting. If the negative press continues, perhaps she wouldn't want to be there either.

Related:Athletes are pissed about clogged toilets at Rio's Olympic Village

Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter: @ngjanowitz