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Over a Dozen Marines Killed in Mississippi Plane Crash

Military officials say 16 troops were killed Monday when a Marine Corps transport plane crashed in the Mississippi Delta.

In a brief statement, the Marine Corps said the flight, which involved a KC-130 Hercules transport aircraft, originated at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., and disappeared from air traffic control radar over Mississippi.

“While the details of this incident are being investigated, our focus remains on providing the necessary resources and support to the family and friends of these service members as they go through this extremely difficult time,” the statement said.

Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks told The Associated Press that officials searched for other victims across a large debris field Monday, more than five house after the aircraft crashed into a soybean field.

“We’re still searching the area,” Banks said. “It’s hard to find bodies in the dark.”

Aerial footage taken by local news station  WLBT-TV showed the plane burning and emitting black smoke visible for miles across the delta of Mississippi.

Andy Jones told the AP 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.”

When he reached the area near the crash site, “it was one of the worst fires you can imagine,” Jones said. He said the fire was punctuated by the pops of small explosions.

President Donald Trump issued a statement via Twitter Tuesday morning, offering condolences to those involved.

“Marine Plane crash in Mississippi is heartbreaking. Melania and I send our deepest condolences to all!” the president said, referring to his wife.

Vice President Mike Pence also issued a statement via Twitter.

“Karen & I are praying for the families of the Marines who lost their lives. These Marines will be in our hearts,” Pence said.

The FBI has reportedly joined local and state agencies to investigate the cause of the crash and to offer any additional aid.