Fifteen Marines and one sailor died when a KC-130 military plane crashed into a Mississippi soybean field, and the FBI is now involved in investigating the cause.
Photos and videos capture the smoking wreckage where the U.S. Marine Corps plane plummeted into the field on July 10 in the Mississippi Delta. The debris field spanned a five-mile radius, according to The Clarion-Ledger, which reported that 4,000 gallons of foam were used to combat the blaze.
Earlier fatality counts were much lower. Authorities were still looking for survivors, and it was possible there would be more casualties.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. There Were Indications of a Mid-Air Explosion, According to One News Report
The cause of the catastrophic crash was not yet clear on July 10. However, there were some indications that the plane had suffered a mid-air explosion, according to one local news report. The plane crashed in a field near Greenwood, Mississippi. According to Fox News, the plane did a “corkscrew” to earth.
“The plane is believed to have exploded in mid-air. Investigators said they found debris on both sides of the highway, leading them to believe an explosion happened prior to the crash,” WMC Action News reported. That account was not confirmed, however.
Alan Hammons, a Mississippi airport official told WNBD that “the plane was being tracked by air traffic controllers in Memphis and suffered a structural failure at 20,000 feet that caused it to plunge into the field.”
The U.S. Marine Corps wrote on Twitter, “A USMC KC-130 mishap occurred the evening of July 10. Further information will be released as available.” According to Fox News, the FBI has joined the local and state agencies investigation the cause of the disaster.
Austin Jones, a local farmer, told The Military Times that he and his son saw the plane crash, and “it was smoking as it descended.”
“It’s burning worse now than it was early in the afternoon,” said Jones to the military newspaper.
2. The Plane, Which Was Carrying Ammo, Was From North Carolina
According to WMC Action News, the plane was loaded with ammo. The television station reported that emergency responders were keeping their distance from the plane because of the ammunition inside it.
Jet fuel also ignited a perilous fire.
“An intense fire fed by jet fuel hampered firefighters…causing them to turn to unmanned devices in an attempt to control the flames,” The Military Times reported.
WNCN reported that the KC-130 plane is “typically used as an air-to-air refueling plane.”
The Clarion-Ledger reported that the plane was from Cherry Point, North Carolina.
“The Lockheed Martin KC-130 is a four-engine turboprop military tanker aircraft used for aerial refueling. This variant of the C-130 is used by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps,” reported AJC.com.
3. Missssippi’s Governor Asked for Prayers For ‘Our Men & Women in Uniform’ & President Trump Called the Crash ‘Heartbreaking’
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said in a statement: “Please join Deborah and me in praying for those hurting after this tragedy. Our men and women in uniform risk themselves every day to secure our freedom.” President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter, “”Marine Plane crash in Mississippi is heartbreaking. Melania and I send our deepest condolences to all!”
Many people also posted tributes to the fallen Marines on social media.
Congressman Steve Cohen released a statement that read, “I am saddened by the terrible plane crash this evening in Mississippi that took the lives of five soldiers serving our country. My thoughts go out to the families of the deceased, and I hope for the survival of the others on board.”
However, the casualty count later increased dramatically.
4. All of the Bodies Were Recovered From the Wreckage
The grim task of collecting the dead was underway. AJC.com reported that at least 12 bodies had been recovered from the plane. However, local news reporters later reported that all 16 bodies were recovered.
The victims’ names had not yet been released. Of the victims, the local sheriff, Ricky Banks, told the Clarion-Ledger: “Most of them are gonna be Marines.” It’s not yet clear whether any non military members were on the airplane. It later turned out that all but one victim was a Marine.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, the “crash site is a very rural area” so authorities were “searching in a field with tall vegetation.”
5. The Wreckage Was Still Burning When Reporters Arrived on the Scene
Dramatic photos and videos showed the burning wreckage in the field.
The photos and videos captured the debris field and degree of damage.
The shape of the plane could still be seen in the field.
This post will be updated as more is learned about the crash.