Sheriff: As many as 16 dead in military plane crash

A military plane has crashed in a soybean field in Leflore County, killing at least 16 and leaving a debris field five miles in radius, officials said.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Lee Smithson said the plane crashed on the Sunflower-Leflore county line.

Leflore County EMA Director Frank Randle confirmed that 16 are dead in the crash.

"Most of them are gonna be Marines," Sheriff Ricky Banks said. He could not confirm whether there were any civilians on the plane.

A late-night briefing by Randle just before 11 p.m. Monday did not reveal any new details except to say people who are not responders should avoid the area because there is still flammable fuel on the scene.

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

The U.S. Marine Corps Twitter account posted that "A USMC KC-130 mishap occurred the evening of July 10. Further information will be released as available."

Capt. Sarah Burns echoed that Twitter language in a statement, saying a Marine KC-130 "experienced a mishap" Monday evening.

Marine Corps spokeswoman Lt. Kristine Rascicot confirmed that the crash was, in fact, a USMC KC-130, but said she's not able to release any more details.

So far there is no word on where the plane was coming from or where it was going.

Leflore County Deputy Coroner Will Gnemi has confirmed the coroner's office is on the scene. He said they are still looking for victims, so he doesn't know how many there will be by the end of the day. He said the crash site is a very rural area, and that they are searching in a field with tall vegetation.

The Clarion-Ledger has confirmed that the FBI is assisting on the scene as well.

Greenwood Fire Chief Marcus Banks told the Greenwood Commonwealth's Tim Kalich that the debris field is about five miles in radius.

"Please join Deborah and me in praying for those hurting after this tragedy," Gov.  Phil Bryant said in a statement on Facebook. "Our men and women in uniform risk themselves every day to secure our freedom."

Marcus Banks told the Commonwealth that the call came in around 4 p.m. An aircraft crash truck was taken to the scene, and 4,000 gallons of foam were used in an effort to put out the fire, he said.

Firefighters were driven away by several "high-intensity explosions," he told the Commonwealth, adding that they thought it was possibly some ammunition igniting.

The Commonwealth reports that the flight was last reported to air traffic controllers at an elevation of about 20,000 feet.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said the NTSB is not involved in the investigation at this time since it's a military aircraft. 

The KC-130 is a four-engine propeller-driven aircraft that is a variant of the Cold War-era C-130 Hercules, according to a Washington Post article. It an extended-range tanker version of the C-130 Hercules that has been modified for aerial refueling in midair or equipment on the ground. It can also haul troops and equipment and in some cases carry an array of weapons. 

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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