USMC KC-130 Hercules Crashes and Burns in Mississippi Killing 16 (Updated)
The aircraft came down in a rural field, tragically killing everyone on board.
The mishap reportedly occurred sometime around 4:00 PM Central Standard Time (CST) near Greenwood, Mississippi, along a stretch of Highway 82 that runs near the boundary between the state's Leflore and Sunflower Counties. Initial reports were unclear as to who owned the aircraft, first identified only as a C-130 Hercules. The U.S. Marine Corps later confirmed on Twitter that one of its KC-130 aircraft was involved in the accident.
The official Tweet did not include any details, stating that "further information will be released as available." Later we found out that 16 souls were aboard the stricken aircraft and all perished in the crash.
The service did not specify whether the plane was an older KC-130T or a new KC-130J model and it was not immediately apparent what variant was involved from photographs and video. The Marines use these aircraft for mid-air refueling, as well as basic cargo hauling duties. There is a also a roll-on/roll-off kit that can transform the newer KC-130J models into armed weapons and surveillance platforms, called Harvest Hawks.
An early report indicated that the aircraft had originally taken off from Naval Support Activity Mid-South Base situated in Millington, Tennessee, but this is unlikely as the facility does not have an airfield. However, it is located near Millington Regional Jetport, which had been a Naval Reserve base until 1993. Mississippi officials had not apparently confirmed the aircraft's point of origin as of around 7:00 PM CST, according to a story from local NBC affiliate WCNC.
As casualty counts became more defined, and rose well beyond the few Marines rumored to have been killed shortly after the crash, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said in a post on Facebook: "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."
Though the Marine Corps has not released any details, the aircraft may have suffered a "structural failure" at 20,000, Alan Hammons, an official with Mississippi's Greenwood Airport, told local CBS affiliate WNCN. MSNewsNow, citing unnamed "investigators," said the presence of debris on both sides of Highway 82 suggested a mid-air explosion. Who those individuals would have been is unclear, however, since the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed it was not involved since the aircraft was property of the U.S. military. Other reports state the aircraft may have suffered an explosion mid air before it fell to the ground.
UPDATE: 9:25am PST-
The USMC has confirmed that the aircraft that crashed was a KC-130T from VMGR-452 based out of Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York.
15 Marines and one Navy Corpsman were onboard the aircraft when it went down and all perished. The aircraft's flight originated from MCAS Cherry Point in North Carolina. The aircraft and its passengers and cargo were on their way to NAF El Centro in California. There was small arms ammunition and other light weapons onboard the aircraft when it crashed.
The entire USMC statement can be found here.
UPDATE: 11:10am PST-
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