Nine dead in U.S. military plane crash

Black smoke is seen billowing from the crash site

An aging C-130 Hercules that rescued and resupplied USA citizens after last year's hurricanes crashed onto a highway in Georgia during what was supposed to be its final flight, killing all nine Puerto Ricans on board.

The debris field stretched 600 feet (183 metres) in diameter, Effingham County Sheriff's spokeswoman Gena Bilbo said.

Motorist Mark Jones told the Savannah Morning News that he saw the plane hit the road right in front of him, about a mile (less than two kilometers) from the airport.

Black smoke rose into the sky from a section of the plane that appeared to have crashed into a median strip on the road outside Savannah, Georgia.

For his part, the assistant general of the GNPR commented that "on behalf of the great family of the National Guard of Puerto Rico I want to indicate that our prayers are with the families and loved ones of the crew members".

The plane involved in Wednesday's crash was at least 50 years old, according to an official familiar with the aircraft. All the airmen were from Puerto Rico, an official said. "The aeroplane just took off and quickly fell", said Brig. The National Guard tweeted that it will look into the incident.

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The Savannah Professional Firefighters Association said it was a C-130 airplane, a military cargo aircraft. "We heard a boom of the crash and then a louder boom of the explosion", she said. They aren't releasing names until all the families have been contacted, but "most of them already know and have come to the base". The crash site is 15 miles from Savannah's airport.

A spokesman for the Puerto Rico National Guard says the military cargo plane that crashed outside Savannah, Georgia, was on its way to Arizona. It should also be noted that the plane had recently undergone routine maintenance over the last few days and was cleared for flight.

The 156th Airlift Wing in Puerto Rico is home to the Bucaneros- 1,200 National Guardsmen and women are bilingual. A spokesperson from the airport said that although the crash didn't happen on airport property, the "ground shook like a bomb was going off" nonetheless.

The C-130 cargo plane crashed around 11:30 a.m. near the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.

Tiffany Williams, deputy coroner of the Chatham County Coroner's Office, said by telephone that two people were confirmed killed.

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