A U.S. Marine airplane, a refueling tanker, crashed Monday evening in rural Mississippi, leaving at least 12 people dead. The debris of the crash spread for miles, making it hard for officials — who have been searching at the crash site for hours — to find and identify the victims of the catastrophe.
The USMC KC-130 spiraled down — in an apparently uncontrollable way — finally crashing into a soybean field in LeFlore County, Mississippi. Fortunately, there was no one on the ground at the time of the accident, but all the passengers of the tanker are presumed dead at this moment.
In an initial report, authorities at LeFlore County seemed to have confirmed that the casualties were up to 16, but only 12 bodies have been found so far.
The dramatic crash occurred at around 4 p.m. CST, when the KC-130 hit the ground near some trees. It was witnessed by Andy Jones, a worker at a nearby catfish farm. “You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around,” he said.
“It was spinning down.”
According to his recollection of the events, he and another witness made their way to the crash site, but by the time they got there, the plane had already been engulfed in flames.
A man used Jones’ phone to report the accident to the authorities, who arrived promptly at the scene. Firemen bravely fought the flames that had already consumed most the airplane, but they were forced to step back after the tanker ended up exploding. The fire was so intense that the smoke could still be seen over four hours after the crash, and it was even worse than it was at the moment of the accident, according to witnesses.
While a clear reason for the crash has yet to be realized by the authorities, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was also at the scene of the crash.
The only statement released so far by the Marine Corps was made by Capt. Sarah Burns, a spokesperson, who said the plane had experienced a “mishap.”
“Further information will be passed as available.”
Additionally, a statement from Alan Hammons, an official at the Greenwood Airport, said that the aircraft had suffered a “structural failure.”
Even though it’s already dark, they are still searching the area, looking for bodies in order to confirm the number of casualties, which has been reported at different figures, from four to six, to even 16.
[Featured image by John Moore/Getty Images]