16 people have been killed after a US Marine Corps plane crashed into a field in rural Mississippi on Monday. 16 bodies had been recovered at the time Leflore County Emergency Management Agency Director Frank Randle gave reporters a late briefing on Monday.
Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns said in a statement that a KC-130 “experienced a mishap” Monday evening but provided no details.
The KC-130, which is used as a refueling tanker, had spiraled into the ground about 85 miles (135 kilometers) north of Jackson in the Mississippi Delta, scattering debris in a radius of about 8 km (5 miles).
Witness Andy Jones said he was working on his family’s catfish farm just before 4 p.m. when he heard a boom and looked up to see the plane corkscrewing downward with one engine smoking.
Jones said the plane hit the ground behind some trees in a soybean field, and by the time he and others reached the crash site, fires were burning too intensely to approach the wreckage. He added that the crash nearly flattened the plane.”You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around,” he said. “It was spinning down.”
Jones said firefighters tried to put out the fire at the main crash site but withdrew after an explosion forced them back. He said the fire was continually punctuated by the pops of small explosions.
The fire produced plumes of black smoke that could be seen for miles across the flat region and continued to burn more than four hours after the crash. Officials did not release information on what caused the crash or where the flight originated.