Friday 22 September 2017

At least 16 dead after military plane crashes in Mississippi

Emergency officials respond to the site of a military plane crash near Itta Bena, Miss., Monday, July 10, 2017. (Elijah Baylis/The Clarion-Ledger via AP)
Emergency officials respond to the site of a military plane crash near Itta Bena, Miss., Monday, July 10, 2017. (Elijah Baylis/The Clarion-Ledger via AP)
Emergency officials respond to the site of a military plane crash near Itta Bena, Miss., Monday, July 10, 2017. (Elijah Baylis/The Clarion-Ledger via AP)
Emergency officials respond to the site of a military plane crash near Itta Bena, Miss., Monday, July 10, 2017. (Elijah Baylis/The Clarion-Ledger via AP)
Smoke rises in the air after a military transport plane crashed into a field near Itta Bena, Miss., on the western edge of Leflore County, as seen from U.S. Highway 82, Monday, July 10, 2017. Several were killed in the crash. (AP Photo/Andy Lo)
Emergency personnel stand along U.S. Highway 82 after a military transport plane crashed into a field near Itta Bena, Miss., on the western edge of Leflore County, Monday, July 10, 2017. Several were killed in the crash. (AP Photo/Andy Lo)
In this photo provided by Jimmy Taylor, smoke and flames come from the wreckage after a military transport airplane crashed in a field near Itta Bena, Miss., on the western edge of Leflore County, Monday, July 10, 2017, killing several. (Jimmy Taylor via AP)
In this photo provided by Jimmy Taylor, smoke and flames come from the wreckage of a military transport airplane crashed in a field near Itta Bena, Miss., on the western edge of Leflore County, Monday, July 10, 2017, killing several. (Jimmy Taylor via AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A US Marine refueling tanker has crashed into a soybean field in rural Mississippi, killing at least 16 people aboard and spreading debris for miles, officials said.

Leflore County Emergency Management Agency Director Frank Randle told reporters at a late briefing that 16 bodies had been recovered after the KC-130 spiralled into the ground about 85 miles (135km) north of Jackson in the Mississippi Delta.

Marine Corps spokeswoman Captain Sarah Burns said in a statement that a KC-130 "experienced a mishap" on Monday evening but provided no details. The KC-130 is used as a refuelling tanker.

Andy Jones said he was working on his family's catfish farm just before 4pm local time when he heard a boom and looked up to see the plane corkscrewing downward with one engine smoking.

Emergency officials respond to the site of a military plane crash near Itta Bena, Miss., Monday, July 10, 2017. (Elijah Baylis/The Clarion-Ledger via AP)
Emergency officials respond to the site of a military plane crash near Itta Bena, Miss., Monday, July 10, 2017. (Elijah Baylis/The Clarion-Ledger via AP)

"You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around," he said. "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.

The force of the crash nearly flattened the plane, Mr Jones said.

"Beans are about waist-high, and there wasn't much sticking out above the beans," he said.

Emergency personnel stand along U.S. Highway 82 after a military transport plane crashed into a field near Itta Bena, Miss., on the western edge of Leflore County, Monday, July 10, 2017. Several were killed in the crash. (AP Photo/Andy Lo)
Emergency personnel stand along U.S. Highway 82 after a military transport plane crashed into a field near Itta Bena, Miss., on the western edge of Leflore County, Monday, July 10, 2017. Several were killed in the crash. (AP Photo/Andy Lo)

Mr Jones 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 told the Greenwood Commonwealth that debris from the plane was scattered in a radius of about five miles (8km).

In this photo provided by Jimmy Taylor, smoke and flames come from the wreckage after a military transport airplane crashed in a field near Itta Bena, Miss., on the western edge of Leflore County, Monday, July 10, 2017, killing several. (Jimmy Taylor via AP)
In this photo provided by Jimmy Taylor, smoke and flames come from the wreckage after a military transport airplane crashed in a field near Itta Bena, Miss., on the western edge of Leflore County, Monday, July 10, 2017, killing several. (Jimmy Taylor via AP)

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.

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