A plane from the Italian Air Force’s aerobatic squadron crashed Saturday during training near the northern city of Turin, killing a 5-year-old child and leaving his 9-year-old brother seriously burned when the car they were in was badly burned. hit by the burning debris of a huge fireball.
The MB-339 plane exploded moments after takeoff around noon local time, officials said, according to Italian firefighters.
The pilot, who survived, could be seen ejecting with his parachute opening moments before the plane hit the ground, firefighters said.
He is currently being treated for burns at Giovanni Bosco Hospital in Turin, officials added.
Frecce Tricolori aerobatic aircraft, part of the Italian Air Force, were practicing training ahead of the Italian Air Force centenary celebrations due to take place on Sunday. The planes had just taken off from Turin’s Caselle airport when one of the planes began to lose altitude, as shown in several videos shared on social media.
The accident occurred within the airport perimeter.
The airport tweeted that it was temporarily closed.
Italian media reported that the planes hit a flock of birds just after takeoff, according to CNN affiliate Sky24.
The car carrying the 5-year-old and his family was traveling on a country road parallel to the airport, according to local media.
His brother survived and is currently being treated for serious burns at the Regina Margherita Children’s Hospital in Turin, the hospital confirmed.
Their parents were also reportedly burned.
The Italian Air Force said it was “dismayed and surprised” by the plane crash, according to a statement from the Italian Air Force Chief of Staff and Air Force General Luca Goretti air squadron.
The Pony 4 aircraft, piloted by Maj. Oscar Del Do’, lost altitude and crashed to the ground shortly after the formation took off, according to the release.
The Italian Air Force has not confirmed the exact cause of the accident, but speculated that there was a bird strike in the early stages of takeoff.