Rome - Two people died on Friday when a small Cessna plane crashed near Rome's Ciampino airport and burst into flames, emergency fire services reported.

The aircraft, which was heading for another airport north of the Italian capital, crashed into a car depot in an industrial zone, setting around 30 cars on fire in a blaze emergency services struggled to put out.

“The flames were about 15 metres (50 feet) high,” said Marco Di Carlo, who saw the accident happen.

Rescue workers recovered the bodies of the pilot and passenger, two men aged 39 and 50, who had been taking photographs for an aerial survey at the time of the crash, according to Italian media reports.

The Corriere della Sera newspaper said authorities investigating the accident were exploring the hypothesis that the plane had run out of fuel.

Six people working in the depot at the time of the accident were unharmed. - Sapa-AFP