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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Sixteen dead in US military plane crash in Mississippi

There were no survivors in the crash which the US Marine Corps said was a 'mishap' involving a KC-130

A Marine Corps KC-130 airplane crashed in Leflore County, Mississippi, killing all 16 people on board.  EPA / Kimimasa Mayama
A Marine Corps KC-130 airplane crashed in Leflore County, Mississippi, killing all 16 people on board. EPA / Kimimasa Mayama

A US military aircraft used for refuelling crashed into a soybean field in the southern state of Mississippi, killing all 16 people aboard in a fiery wreckage and spreading debris for miles.

The US Marine Corps confirmed that a "mishap" involving a KC-130 occurred in the evening, while the director of Leflore County Emergency Management Agency, Frank Randle, said 16 bodies had been recovered.

All 16 victims were on the Marine Corps aircraft and there were no survivors, Mr Randle told CNN.

The incident took place around 4pm (2100 GMT), the Clarion-Ledger said, noting that firefighters sprayed the aircraft with huge layers of foam to quell the fire.

Andy Jones said he was working on his family's catfish farm when he heard a boom and looked up to see the plane corkscrewing downward with one engine smoking.

"You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around," he said. "It was spinning down."

Mr Jones said the plane hit the ground behind trees in the soybean field, and by the time he and other reached the crash site, fires were burning too intensely to approach the wreckage. The force of the crash nearly flattened the plane, he said.

Greenwood Fire Chief Marcus Banks said debris from the plane was scattered in a radius of about 8 kilometres.

Photos posted on its website showed plumes of black smoke billowing from a green agricultural field.

Mr Jones said firefighters tried to put out the fire at the main crash site but withdrew after an explosion forced them back. The fire produced towering plumes of black smoke visible for miles across the flat region and continued to burn after dusk, more than four hours after the crash.

Aerial pictures taken by a local TV network showed the skeleton of the plane burning strongly.

"It was one of the worst fires you can imagine," Mr Jones said, adding that the fire was punctuated by the pops of small explosions.