A National Guard plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Savannah, Georgia, Wednesday morning, killing five crew members with four other passengers reported missing.
“There were airmen on the plane who were deceased, but we’re not giving out any numbers at this time,” National Guard Master Sgt. Roger Parsons said, per CNN.
The crash happened around 11:30 a.m. at the intersection of Ga. 21 and Crossgate Road.
The National Guard tweeted that the plane is a WC-130 Hercules and was on a training mission. The plane is from the Air National Guard’s 156th Airlift Wing stationed in Puerto Rico.
The WC-130 is used for weather reconnaissance, it said.
The plane had been in Savannah for “a number of days” undergoing routine maintenance, said Maj. Paul Dahlen, spokesman for the Puerto Rico National Guard. It was en route to Arizona, he said.
“We don’t know the cause of the crash,” he said.
Local members currently on scene assisting with clean up. pic.twitter.com/lSuRcqTx56
— IAFF574 Savannah (@IAFF574) May 2, 2018
“As far as we know, no cars were hit, which is an absolute miracle,” said Gena Bilbo, spokeswoman for the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office.
The Georgia Department of Transportation said the roadway where the crash happened could be closed for weeks, she said. Power has been cut in the area as authorities investigate, she added.
Mark Jones was near the intersection of Highway 21 and Gulfstream Road when he noticed the plane low in the air.
“I looked down and then looked back up and it didn’t look like it nosedived, but it almost looked like it stalled and just went almost flat right there in the middle of the highway,” Jones told the Savannah Morning News.
WARNING: Video below contains profanity
Jones said the explosion happened immediately upon impact.
“I’m still shook up and shaking,” he said. “My stomach is in knots because I know they’re people just like me. I wasn’t that far from it and I could have just kept going and it would have been me and we wouldn’t be talking right now. They were just people driving to wherever and not expecting something like that to happen.”
As reported by CNN, the Marine Corps grounded its fleet of KC-130T aircraft last summer — which, like the WC-130, is a variant of the C-130 — following a crash that killed 15 Marines and one sailor in Mississippi.
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