An Italian Air Force aerobatic squadron jet crashed on Saturday during a training run near the northern city of Turin, killing a 5-year-old child and leaving her 9-year-old brother with severe burns when the car they were in was hit by burning debris from a huge fireball.
The MB-339 jetliner exploded moments after takeoff around noon local time, officials said, according to the Italian fire brigade.
The surviving pilot was seen ejecting with his parachute open moments before the jet hit the ground, firefighters said.
He is currently being treated for burns at the Giovanni Bosco Hospital in Turin, officials added.
Aerobatic jets of the Frecce Tricolori, part of the Italian Air Force, rehearsed the formation ahead of the celebrations of 100 years of the Italian Air Force, which are due to take place on Sunday. The planes had just taken off from Turin’s Caselle airport when one of the jets began to lose altitude, as seen in multiple videos shared on social media.
The accident happened inside the perimeter of the airport.
The airport tweeted that it was temporarily closed.
The wreckage of a burnt car remains as firefighters seal off the area where a plane belonging to the Italian aerobatic team Frecce Tricolori crashed on September 16 during a practice run outside the northern city of Turin.
Italian media reported the jets hit a flock of birds just after takeoff, according to CNN affiliate Sky24.
The car, which was holding the 5-year-old child and her family, was driving along a rural road parallel to the airport, according to local media reports.
Her brother survived and is now being treated for severe burns at the Regina Margherita Children’s Hospital in Turin, the hospital confirmed.
It is said that their parents also suffered burns.
The Italian Air Force said it was “appalled and stunned” by the plane crash, according to a statement from Italy’s Air Force Chief of Staff and Air Squadron General Luca Goretti.
The Pony 4 plane, piloted by Maj. Oscar Del Do’, lost altitude and crashed shortly after the formation took off, the statement said.
The Italian Air Force did not confirm the exact cause of the accident, but assumed that a collision with a bird occurred during the first stages of take-off.