In the deadliest U.S. airplane crash since Colgan Air in 2009, 16 people died on Monday afternoon when a C-130 operated by the Marine Corps crashed in a soybean field in Mississippi. There were no survivors, and authorities are still working to confirm the exact number of people on board. Photos and videos online show the wreckage burning, with heavy smoke. A local witness told The Associated Press he was working outdoors at about 4 p.m. when he heard a boom and looked up to see the airplane spiraling down with smoke coming from one engine. Some reports said a five-mile debris field suggested the aircraft had broken up in flight, but the online images appear to show the burning aircraft largely intact. One engine, however, was found about a mile north of the main crash site.
The flight originated from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., the Marine Corps said in a statement. “The cause of the crash is unknown at this time; the incident is under investigation,” the Marine Corps said. The Marines haven’t commented on the crew’s mission, the itinerary or the destination. According to CNN, the aircraft made a stop at Memphis International Airport in Memphis, Tennessee, but it’s not known if it was refueled there. According to WNCN, an official at the Greenwood Airport in Mississippi said air traffic controllers were tracking the flight and said it experienced a “structural failure” at 20,000 feet. The most recent comparable loss of life in an aviation accident occurred last July, when 16 people were killed in the crash of a commercial hot-air balloon in Texas.