Four people are dead after two planes, one of them on a training flight, collided midair in central Victoria on Wednesday morning.
Emergency services were called to two crash scenes east of the Mangalore airfield, 120 kilometres north of Melbourne, about 11.25am, police said.
Police believe the two aircraft collided in midair before crashing to the ground and the four people would have died straight away.
“One plane almost certainly crashed immediately and the other plane crashed about two kilometres north from here and both were extensively damaged prior to colliding with the ground,” Mitchell Local Area Commander Inspector Peter Koger said.
None of the four people have yet been identified.
Inspector Koger said witnesses had seen the planes collide, and one of them crash.
“There were some people in the paddocks at the back of this facility and there was also a helicopter in the air and we’re working with them to get witness statements,” he said.
Aerial footage of the scene appears to show the wreckage of one light plane in a clearing, and the wreckage of a second in bushland nearby.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority said one of the planes was a Piper Seminole twin engine registered to Moorabbin Aviation Services on a training flight. The other was a privately-owned Beech Travel Air D95A registered to Tyabb, on the Mornington Peninsula, south-east of Melbourne.
Channel Nine’s Tony Jones, who was at the scene north of Seymour, told Melbourne radio 3AW the damage looked serious.
“It doesn’t look good, I’m afraid,” he said.
“It has broken up, a number of parts of that plane … have broken free from the actual aircraft.
“It’s quite a grim scene.”
Police, paramedics and firefighters remained at the scene on Wednesday afternoon.
An air ambulance has also been sent.
The crash scene is near the flight training school at Mangalore, which is between the Hume Freeway and the Australian Army base at Puckapunyal. Southbound lanes of the freeway were closed for some time after the accident.
Mangalore Airport is open to recreational flyers and those learning to fly. It is also used by state and federal government departments.
Mangalore Airport and Moorabbin Aviation Services declined to comment.
CASA and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau will investigated the fatal crash.