GREENWOOD, Miss. — A Marine Corps transport plane that crashed in Mississippi, killing 16 service members, experienced an emergency at high altitude and left two debris fields a mile apart, a Marine general said on Wednesday, bolstering witness accounts that the plane broke up or exploded while in the air.
“Two large impact areas are half a mile north of Highway 82 and a half a mile south of Highway 82,” said Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James, commander of the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve.
“Indications are something went wrong at cruise altitude,” he said. “There is a large debris pattern.”
The KC-130T, en route from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina to Naval Air Facility El Centro in California, crashed on Monday into a soybean field between the towns of Itta Bena and Moorhead, in the Mississippi Delta. It was ferrying members of the elite Marine Raiders special operations force and their equipment. After stopping in El Centro, the plane was to take them to Yuma, Arizona, James said at a news conference a few miles from the crash site.
James did not specify what he meant by “cruise altitude.” As a propeller-driven craft, the KC-130 family of aircraft does not fly as high as jet planes of similar size. It can go above 30,000 feet with a relatively light load, but it generally cruises below that level.
Appearing with James, Marshall L. Fisher, commissioner of the State Department of Public Safety, warned that the wreckage contained explosives. He cautioned people in the rural area not to touch any debris, both for safety’s sake, and because removal…
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