2 civilian pilots presumed dead in mid-air crash with German military jet

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A helicopter has landed near debris of a crashed Learjet near Elpe, Germany, Monday, June 23, 2014. The Learjet with two persons on board collided with a Eurofigher of German airforce which landed safely at its base in Noervenich. (AP Photo/dpa, Joerg Taron)

BERLIN — Two civilian pilots whose plane crashed after colliding with a German fighter jet during a military maneuver are presumed dead, police said Tuesday.

Human remains found near the site of Monday's crash likely belonged to the pilots, aged 50 and 43, said Bianca Scheer, a spokeswoman for police in the Sauerland region, east of Cologne.

Prosecutors have begun an investigation into possible negligent homicide on the part of the fighter pilot, she said.

The Learjet had been chartered by the German air force to take part in a training exercise with two unarmed Eurofighter jets when it collided with one of the military planes near the town of Elpe. It crashed 90 meters (300 feet) from a house.

The fighter pilot landed safely at a military airfield despite having a full fuel tank ripped off in the collision, said a German military spokesman.

"We don't know how he managed to do this because the jet suffered considerable damage," said Capt. Andre Hesse.

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