Six­teen killed in US mil­i­tary plane crash

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

ITTA BENA, Mis­sis­sippi — A US mil­i­tary plane used for re­fu­el­ing crashed into a field in ru­ral Mis­sis­sippi, killing at least 16 peo­ple aboard and spread­ing de­bris for kilo­me­ters and cre­at­ing a fiery wreck­age, of­fi­cials said.

Le­flore County Emer­gency Management Agency Di­rec­tor Frank Ran­dle said on Mon­day that 16 bod­ies had been re­cov­ered af­ter the KC-130 spi­raled into the ground 135 km north of Jack­son in the Mis­sis­sippi Delta.

Ma­rine Corps spokes­woman Sarah Burns said in a state­ment that a KC-130 “ex­pe­ri­enced a mishap” on Mon­day evening but pro­vided no de­tails. KC-130s are tanker planes de­signed to pro­vide aerial re­fu­el­ing. It was not im­me­di­ately known where the air­craft had taken off from or where it was go­ing.

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

“You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around,” he said. “It was spin­ning down.”

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.

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

Jones said a man bor­rowed his cell­phone to re­port to author­i­ties that there were bod­ies across US High­way 82.

Green­wood Fire Chief Mar- cus Banks told the Green­wood Com­mon­wealth that de­bris from the plane was scat­tered in a radius of about 8 km.

Jones 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 sev­eral kilo­me­ters 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,” Jones 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.

REUTERS

A KC-130 Her­cules con­ducts air re­fu­el­ing train­ing over the Pa­cific Ocean.

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