Rome: Two Italian Air Force pilots died after the aircraft they were flying collided mid-air near Italy’s capital.
The country’s government and military officials confirmed that the crash happened on Tuesday and media reports said that the Air Force and the prosecutor’s office in the nearby town of Tivoli will both open investigations into the causes of the collision, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to official accounts, the two U-208 light propeller aircraft were on a training mission from the Guidonia Military Airport, located around 25 kilometers northeast of Rome. There were no immediate signs of distress from either pilot and there were no reported injuries on the ground, though news sources said some wreckage fell into a roadside parking area causing property damage.
The crash was visible from the ground and its aftermath was recorded by several local residents, with images and videos published in the Italian media. Media reports quoted witnesses as saying that the planes were flying in formation before veering off course and making contact.
The pilots, part of the 60th Wing, a unit of the Italian Air Force based at the Guidonia Military Airport, were reportedly carrying out exercises ahead of celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Italian Air Force later this month. It is not clear how the accident and the deaths of the pilots will impact the celebrations.
According to Air Force data, the U-208 is a lightweight, single-prop aircraft capable of maximum speeds of 285 kilometers per hour. The aircraft, which is not used for combat, can carry up to five passengers, including the pilot.
The events on Tuesday sparked messages of condolences, including from Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who said she was “devastated to hear about the deaths of two Air Force pilots during a training accident near Guidonia.”