The crash of a military plane into a Mississippi field on Monday which killed all 16 people on board is the scene of a federal investigation on Tuesday.
According to news reports, the KC-130, used as an aerial refueler, disappeared from radar and spiraled down dramatically before exploding into a LeFlore County soybean field around 4 p.m. The site of the crash is approximately 85 miles north of Jackson, the Marine Corps said. Debris from the disaster was scattered in a radius of at least 5 miles.
According to a report in the Marine Corps Times, the aircraft came from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452 (VMGR-452), which is a reserve unit based at Stewart Air National Guard Base, located 60 miles north of New York City.
“The Marine Corps said it operated the plane but has provided no information on where the flight originated or where it was going,” according to the report.
Alan Hammons, an official at Greenwood Airport, told reporters that the aircraft suffered a “structural failure” at 20,000 feet.
The jet fuel on-board the aircraft caused the fire to be so intense that the firefighters had to use unmanned devices to put it out. The scene included a series of high-intensity explosions.
As the remains of the plane burned throughout the afternoon, plumes of black smoke could be seen for miles across the flat delta landscape.
Local catfish farmer Andy Jones recalled hearing a boom in the sky. “You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around,” he said. “It was spinning down.”
— WLBT 3 On Your Side (@WLBT) July 11, 2017
Jones said he saw the plane hit the ground behind some trees in the soybean field. Several people ran towards the crash site, but the fire was too hot for them to get near the wreckage.
“Beans are about waist-high, and there wasn’t much sticking out above the beans,” he said, noting that the plane was flattened. “It was one of the worst fires you can imagine.”
Following the incident, President Trump took to Twitter to issue a heartfelt response to the devastation caused by the crash:
Marine Plane crash in Mississippi is heartbreaking. Melania and I send our deepest condolences to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2017
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