ITTA BENA – Authorities said Wednesday they are still searching for answers to how a Marine Corps KC130T aircraft crashed near here late Monday afternoon.
The accident, in fields along U.S. 82 near here, left 16 service members dead.
Maj. Andrew Aranda, public affairs officer for the Marine Corps , said the military is currently withholding public release of the names of the service members of the Marine Corps and Navy at this time. Family members have been notified.
Aranda said those on board included nine marines from VMGR 52 in Newburgh, N.Y., and six marines and one navy hospital corpsman from Camp Lejeune, N.C.
At approximately 4 p.m. on Monday, air traffic control lost radar contact of the KC-130T aircraft, said Marine Brig. Gen. Bradley James. He went on to say that something went wrong to the aircraft while it was at cruise altitude.
The flight was coming from Cherry Point, N.C., and heading to naval air facilities in El Sentro, Calif., and then to a Marine Corps station in Arizona.
After air controllers lost contact with the aircraft, smoke was discovered in soybean fields in the Itta Bena area. The two impact areas were a half-mile North of Highway U.S. 82 and half-mile south of the highway, said James.
James said officials are working through the process in a four phase approach: recovery of remains and affects, notification of next of kin; preservation of the impact sites and equipment; investigation; and clean up and restoration of the sites.
Marshall Fisher, commissioner of public safety for Mississippi, said dangerous items on the ground are being recovered. Fisher said the items should not be touched and removal of items from sites will be subject to criminal prosecution. He said if the public finds any items, they should call 1-800-ATF-GUNS.
On Tuesday evening, Marcus Banks, Fire Chief of the Leflore County Fire Department, said the community’s prayers and thoughts are with the families of those killed. Banks said this matter is personal to him being a former member of the Army Reserve and having flown in a similar cargo plane during his time in the military.
This mishap has brought together federal, state, and local agencies including Mississippi Wildlife and Fisheries, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi Highway Patrol, the FBI, the federal Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms officials, U.S. Army EOD, U.S. Airforce EOD, Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, Leflore County Fire Department, Leflore Coroners Department, Mississippi State Examiners Office, Mississippi Valley State University, Salvation Army, and the sheriff offices of Leflore and Sunflower counties.