FAA: Cherry Point military plane crashes in Mississippi; 16 dead

(WAPT photo)

ITTA BENA, Miss. - The FAA confirmed a military plane that took off from Cherry Point crashed in Mississippi on Monday. Officials say 16 are confirmed dead.

Several media outlets, including ABC affiliate WSOC, report the FAA said a KC-130 plane took off from Cherry Point on Monday. The Marine Corps says it operated the plane but has provided no information on where the flight originated or where it was going.

A USMC KC-130 mishap occurred the evening of July 10. Further information will be released as available.

-- U.S. Marines (@USMC) July 11, 2017

ABC affiliate WAPT in Mississippi reports 16 bodies have now been recovered from the site, which was at the Sunflower and Leflore county line. ABC affiliate WSOC also reports per the director of emergency management for Leflore County there are 16 dead. There has been no indication who was killed and where they were from. reports the plane refueled in Memphis before it took off and eventually crashed.

Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks tells The Associated Press officials are searching for others across a large debris field in the dark Monday, more than five hours after the C-130 refueling tanker spiraled to the ground into a soybean field about 85 miles north of Jackson.

The Clarion-Ledger newspaper also reports the FBI is on the scene assisting as well.

Banks earlier told the Greenwood Commonwealth that 16 people were believed to be on board but would not confirm that information to the AP. Banks said officials had found at least 12 bodies, but couldn't rule out that more had been or would be found.

Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns said in a statement that a Marine KC-130 "experienced a mishap" Monday evening but provided no details.

Andy Jones said he was working on his family's catfish farm just before 4 p.m. 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." Jones said the plane hit the ground behind some trees, 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, Jones said. "Beans are about waist-high, and there wasn't much sticking out above the beans," he said. Jones said a man borrowed his cell phone to report to authorities that there were bodies across U.S. Highway 82, more than a mile from the crash site. Greenwood Fire Chief Marcus Banks, no relation to the sheriff, told the Greenwood Commonwealth that debris from the plane was scattered in a radius of about 5 miles (8 kilometers). 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 WLBT-TV showed the skeleton of the plane burning strongly.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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