A Thai military air show for children was marred by tragedy on Saturday when a fighter jet plunged from the sky and burst into flames, killing the pilot.
Families were gathered at the airport in the southern city of Hat Yai to watch the show put on for Thailand's annual Children's Day.
Footage of the accident captured shrieks from a startled crowd as the jet took a nosedive and crashed near the airport's runway, releasing fiery plumes of smoke.
"One pilot was killed in the accident this morning," defence ministry spokesman Major General Kongcheep Tantravanich told AFP.
The cause of the crash was under investigation, he added.
No one else was harmed in the incident, according to an airport official, as the audience was gathered a considerable distance away from the crash site.
A junta spokesman said the 35-year-old pilot was flying a Swedish-made JAS 39 Gripen jet.
"The Prime Minister has expressed his condolences to (the) pilot, his family and the Royal Thai Air Force," said Major General Werachon Sukondhapatipak.
Thailand's national Children's Day is celebrated yearly on the second Saturday of January.
The holiday sees military bases around the country open up their gates to let youngsters handle guns and climb over tanks and warships.
Many zoos and museums also allow children in for free.
|© Provided by AFP Swedish-made JAS 39 Gripen fighter jet|
Pilot killed as Thai fighter jet crashes at air show
A Thai air force pilot has died when his fighter jet crashed at an air show during the country's Children's Day.
Amateur video footage shows the JAS 39 Gripen jet maneuvering over the Hat Yai air base in southern Thailand when it suddenly lost altitude and crashed in a ball of fire away from spectators.
The Ministry of Defense is investigating the cause of the crash on Saturday.
Deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipakerachon says Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha expressed condolences to the pilot's family.
Children's Day is usually observed with public outings at military bases.
Horrific moment a fighter jet pilot crashes in a fireball at a children's air show in Thailand
Shocking footage shows the moment a fighter jet crashed and exploded in a fire ball at a children's air show in Thailand.
Royal Thai Air Force pilot Dilokrit Pattavee, 34, had been performing stunts at the air show in Hat Yai, southern Thailand, when his JAS 39 Gripen came down on Saturday.
Spectators can be heard shouting and screaming as a plume of thick smoke is seen rising up from the wreckage.
The Royal Thai Air Force pilot was killed instantly in the crash.
Witness Penwipha Thuanthong said: 'It was scary. The poor pilot. I didn't know if it was part of the show when he was flying towards the ground.
'But he didn't change direction then suddenly is killed. It was a tragedy. My children didn't know what had happened and I had to explain to them.
'He had been only married for a short time, life is just not fair.'
A Royal Thai Air Force spokesman said they were investigating what caused the crash, which took place at the air show's Children's Day.
The spokesman said: 'The Air Chief Marshal would like to express his deepest sorrow at the events that occurred.
'The aircraft accident investigation unit and associated authorities in the area will investigate further to find out why this happened.'
Authorities closed nearby Hat Yai airport, with flights diverting to neighboring Krabi.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-ocha expressed condolences to the pilot's family.