WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sixteen service members were killed after a U.S. military transport plane crashed in rural Mississippi on Monday evening, the U.S Marine Corps said on Tuesday.
In a statement, the Marine Corps said the KC-130 Hercules transport aircraft took off from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina and the aircraft disappeared from air traffic control radar over Mississippi.
The aircraft crashed on Monday at approximately 4 p.m. CDT (5 p.m. EST) in northern Mississippi's LeFlore County, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Jackson, the state capital.
The cause of the crash was not yet known and under investigation, the statement added. The identities of the service members who were killed were being withheld until family members were notified.
Images posted online by news organizations showed the crumpled wreckage of a plane engulfed in flames in a field surrounded by tall vegetation, with a large plume of smoke in the sky above.
The aircraft is used for air-to-air refueling, to carry cargo and perform tactical passenger missions. The plane is operated by three crew members and can carry 92 ground troops or 64 paratroopers, according to a description on the U.S. Navy website.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington D.C. and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Bernard Orr)