Plane crash
In this representational photo, a small plane crashed on the 405 Freeway near John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, June 30, 2017. Reuters

A U.S. Marine Corps KC-130 military plane crashed Monday evening, killing 16 people on board, Leflore County Sheriff’s Office in Mississippi said. The military aircraft crashed about 85 miles north of Jackson on the Sunflower-Leflore county line in central Mississippi.

Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks said at 9:30 p.m. local time (10:30 p.m. EDT on Monday) that 12 bodies were recovered out of 16 people who were on the plane. "Most of them are gonna be Marines," he said. However, he could not confirm whether there were any civilians on the plane, USA Today reported.

The U.S. Marine Corps Twitter account confirmed the incident.

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Marine Corps spokeswoman Lt. Kristine Rascicot also confirmed the military aircraft involved in the crash was a USMC KC-130; however, she did not specify any more details, according to USA Today.

The military aircraft believed to be a Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop aircraft used mainly for military transportation. A KC-130 plane is an extended-range tanker version of the C-130 Hercules military aircraft, which has been modified to enable aerial refueling. The C-130 Hercules is known as a “workhorse used in refueling, humanitarian missions, firefighting, search and rescue, and combat missions,” according to the Lockheed Martin website. The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is considered to be a highly reliable aircraft, according to the Royal Air Force (RAF) records, which place the aircraft’s accident rate at one aircraft loss per 250,000 flying hours over the last forty years, thus making it one of the safest aircraft the RAF operates.

Greenwood Fire Chief Marcus Banks said the aircraft crash was reported around 4 p.m. local time (5 p.m. EDT) and debris from the military transport plane was scattered to a radius of about 5 miles. Aerial pictures taken by NBC-affiliate WLBT-TV showed the skeleton of the crashed plane burning in an intense fire fed by jet fuel, which produced thick black smoke that could be visible across the flat landscape of the delta. Banks said the fire hampered the work of the firefighters in order to control the flames. "We were driven away by several high-intensity explosions," he was quoted as saying by Fox News.

Steve Cohen, Rep. for Tennessee's 9th congressional district expressed his condolences to the families of the victims who were involved in the plane crash.

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Austin Jones, who owns a neighboring farm near the accident scene, told Fox News the intense fire continued even after sunset. "It's burning worse now than it was early in the afternoon," said Jones. He said his son also watched the plane go down while working on the neighboring farm and explained it was smoking as it descended on to the flat landscape of the delta.

The Greenwood Commonwealth newspaper reported the military plane last contacted air traffic controllers before it crashed, at an elevation of about 20,000 feet.

"Please join me in praying for those hurting after this tragedy," Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement on Facebook. "Our men and women in uniform risk themselves every day to secure our freedom."