Italy Tornado fighter jets collide and 'burst into flames' during training mission

Rescue teams have reportedly found an orange parachute close to the crash site

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The Independent Online

Two Italian Tornado jets have collided over eastern Italy during a training mission and crashed into a wooded area, setting it on fire, officials have said.

A Civil Protection official, Susanna Balducci, told Sky TG24 TV there were no civilian casualties on the ground after the crash on Tuesday afternoon in woods near the town of Ascoli in the Marche region. She had no details about the fate of those aboard the aircraft.

Eyewitnesses described the two jets bursting into flames before crashing, the ANSA news agency reports. Local reports suggested the pilots may have ejected from the jets, although this has not been confirmed.

A search and rescue team of firefighters have reportedly found an orange parachute in a village close to the crash site. ANSA reports two pilots and two co-pilots are missing after the crash, whose names have not been released.

A handout photo provided by Italian Telejournal Tg1 on 19 August 2014 shows the forest fire

Defence Ministry officials say they are awaiting an official report from a team of experts at the crash site before making any statement.

Ms Balducci said a firefighting helicopter was trying to extinguish the blaze, whose flames and dark smoke could be seen for miles. No-one in the immediate area has needed to be evacuated.

Witnesses quoted in Italian news reports said they saw two military planes flying low near Ascoli, then heard a crash and saw flames.