A U.S. Marine refueling tanker crashed into a soybean field in rural Mississippi on Monday, killing 16 people aboard and spreading debris for miles.
Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks told The AP that officials were still searching for bodies after nightfall. Witnesses described the KC-130 spiraling into a soybean field about 85 miles north of Jackson, MS.
Sheriff Banks said, “We’re still searching the area. It’s hard to find bodies in the dark.” Banks verified that officials had found at least 12 bodies, but couldn’t rule out that more had been or would be found.
Capt. Sarah Burns, Marine Corps spokeswoman, said in a statement that a Marine KC-130 “experienced a mishap” Monday evening but provided no other details. One local resident, Andy Jones, described hearing a loud boom and looking up to the plane corkscrewing towards the ground with one engine smoking.
He said, “You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around. It was spinning down.” He said the plane crashed behind some trees and by the time he reached it the wreckage was burning too intensely for him to get near it. The force of the impact almost completely flattened the plane. He said, “Beans are about waist-high, and there wasn’t much sticking out above the beans.”
He said another local man had borrowed his cell phone to place a call to authorities reporting bodies across US Highway 82, a distance of over a mile from the crash site.
Fire Chief Marcus Banks told the Greenwood Commonwealth that debris was scattered over a radius of five miles. His firefighters had initially attempted to put out the fire at the crash site but a subsequent explosion forced them back. Plumes of black smoke could be seen for miles the flat delta terrain, continuing to burn over four hours after the crash.
The flight originated out of Memphis on Monday.
— WLBT 3 On Your Side (@WLBT) July 11, 2017
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