At least 16 people have died after a U.S. military plane crashed in rural Mississippi according to LeFlore County EMA Director Fred Randal. No official details were immediately available on the circumstances of the crash in northern Mississippi's LeFlore County, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Jackson, the state capital according to Reuters.
The US Marine Corps tweeted Monday that “a USMC KC-130 mishap occurred the evening of July 10. Further information will be released as available.”
A USMC KC-130 mishap occurred the evening of July 10. Further information will be released as available. pic.twitter.com/QEFhooJZmC— U.S. Marines (@USMC) July 11, 2017
WSOC-TV in Charlotte reported, citing the Federal Aviation Administration, that the flight originated from Cherry Point, North Carolina, where a Marine Corps air base is located. FBI spokesman Brett Carr told the New York Times that the agency was sending officials to the scene, but authorities did not believe foul play was involved. Images posted online by news organizations showed the crumpled wreckage of a plane engulfed in flames in a field surrounded by tall vegetation, with a large plume of smoke in the sky above.
The refueling tanker was loaded with explosives, keeping emergency responders at bay, a state trooper told WMC. Investigators told WMC that debris indicated the plane exploded in midair.
Officials located 12 bodies and continued to look for others across a large debris field five hours after the crash, LeFlore County Sheriff Ricky Banks told the Associated Press.
"We’re just trying to offer any type of assistance," Carr, a spokesman for the bureau’s Jackson, Mississippi office, told the newspaper. "It could be anything from manpower to evidence response." Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said in a statement on social media site Facebook that the incident was a tragedy, but provided no details.
The aircraft is used for air-to-air refueling, to carry cargo and perform tactical passenger missions. The plane is operated by three crew members and can carry 92 ground troops or 64 paratroopers, according to a description on the U.S. Navy website.
The LeFlore County deputy, Will Gnemi, told reporters that the coroner’s office was at the scene searching a field of tall vegetation for victims. At the time, he didn’t know how many casualties there would be. The fire chief of Greenwood, Marcus Banks, said that the radius of the debris is 5 miles, according to the Greenwood Commonwealth.
Banks said that the call came in at around 4:00pm and an aircraft crash truck was traveling to the scene. He also mentioned that 4,000 gallons of foam were used to put the fire out. banks described several “high-intensity explosions” that drove away firefighters, the Commonwealth reported.
The Lockheed Martin KC-130 is a 4 enginge turboprop, and is used for air-to-air refueling, to carry cargo and perform tactical passenger missions. The plane is operated by three crew members and can carry 92 ground troops or 64 paratroopers, according to a description on the U.S. Navy website.