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Crashed car near Caselle Airport near Turin

Photo: Tino Romano / EPA

Serious accident in northern Italy: During a test flight of the famous aerobatic team "Frecce Tricolori" for a performance on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Air Force, a plane crashed shortly after take-off.

A video on social media showed the plane separating from its formation on Saturday afternoon and flying at high speed towards the runway. Shortly before touching the ground, the pilot jumps out with his parachute and the plane bursts into flames.

In the crash of the Aermacchi MB-339 near Turin, five-year-old Laura Origliasso was killed. Her parents, as well as her brother, were injured and taken to hospitals with burns.

According to initial findings, a burning part of the plane may have hit the family's car, which was driving on a nearby country road. However, the exact circumstances of the incident are still unclear.

Now both the prosecutor's office and the Air Force are investigating the matter. The newspaper "La Stampa" reported that the plane may have collided with a flock of birds and that the pilot could have lost control of the plane as a result. Representatives of the »Frecce Tricolori« also spoke of this possibility in a statement. This hypothesis has not been proven.

The pilot of the machine, Oscar Del Dò, was able to save himself because he had catapulted himself out of the plane in time with his parachute, the Ansa news agency reported. He was slightly injured and, according to Corriere della sera, was shocked by the death of the child: "I only think of little Laura," the newspaper quotes him as saying. The public prosecutor's office of Ivrea is now investigating the pilot on suspicion of manslaughter and causing a flight accident.

The father of the deceased girl, Paolo Origliasso, who has since been discharged from hospital, apparently bitterly reproaches himself. "I freed my son, but I didn't manage to save Laura," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper La Stampa. According to "Torino Today", the father is said to have tried to loosen the child's seat belt in the apparently burning car. In vain. The 49-year-old and his 31-year-old wife Veronica received psychological care. The woman and the twelve-year-old son, who was also injured, are still in hospital, according to Italian media.

During their dramatic aerobatics, the »Frecce Tricolori« traditionally draw green, white and red plumes of smoke in the sky, the colors of the Italian national flag.

At such events, the pilots fly complex maneuvers with loops or spirals at speeds of sometimes more than 600 kilometers per hour at a very close distance from each other. The risk of accidents is correspondingly high.

The current accident near Turin brings back bad memories: On August 28, 1988, a devastating accident involving the "Frecce Tricolori" occurred at a US-operated air base in Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate: Three pilots and 67 people died on the ground in a collision between three aircraft. Hundreds were injured at the mass event with around 300,000 visitors.