London News & Search
At least 16 people have been killed after a United States military plane crashed in a field in Mississippi, officials have said.
The plane went down in LeFlore County, about 100 miles from state capital Jackson at about 4pm local time on Monday.
Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks said that officials believe 16 were on board the KC-130 plane, which is used as a refuelling tanker.
No details of what caused the crash have been released, though it has been confirmed all the people on board were members of the Marine Corps.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said the incident was a “tragedy”.
Marine Corps spokeswoman Captain Sarah Burns said in a statement that the plane “experienced a mishap” on Monday evening but provided no details.
Andy Jones said he was working on his family’s catfish farm when he heard a boom and looked up to see the plane corkscrewing downward with one engine smoking.
He said: “You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around. It was spinning down.”
Mr Jones said the plane hit the ground behind some trees in a soybean field, and by the time he and other reached the crash site, fires were burning too intensely to approach the wreckage.
He said a man borrowed his mobile phone to report to authorities that there were bodies across US Highway 82, more than a mile from the crash site.
Greenwood fire chief Marcus Banks said debris from the plane was scattered in a radius of about five miles.
He said firefighters tried to put out the fire at the main crash site but withdrew after an explosion forced them back.
The fire produced towering plumes of black smoke visible for miles across the flat region and continued to burn after dusk, more than four hours after the crash.
Aerial pictures taken by WLBT-TV showed the skeleton of the plane burning strongly.
“It was one of the worst fires you can imagine,” the fire chief said. He said the fire was punctuated by the pops of small explosions.
Officials did not release information on what caused the crash or where the flight originated.
London News & Search