Investigators were scouring a remote, rural stretch of the Mississippi Delta on Tuesday for clues about what caused a Marine Corps transport plane to crash in a soybean field, killing 15 Marines and a Navy corpsman.
The KC-130T aircraft was carrying small-arms ammunition and personal weapons from North Carolina to California when it experienced a “mishap” Monday afternoon, disappearing from air traffic control radar as it passed over Leflore County, Miss., military officials said.
The plane was from a Marine Corps Forces Reserve aerial refueling and transport squadron based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., military officials said.
Officials did not immediately release information on the cause of the crash, which spread debris for miles. They urged the public to stay away as investigators combed through the wreckage and collected information.
“An Explosive Ordnance Disposal team is at the scene as a precaution in the interest of safety,” Lt. Col. Tanya Murnock, a public affairs officer for the Marine Corps Forces Reserve, said in a statement Tuesday.
“The identities of the service members whose lives were lost in this tragic accident are being withheld to allow time for their loved ones to be notified,” Murnock said.
“While the details of the 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,” she said.
The aircraft, which was capable of providing air-to-air refueling, rapid ground refueling and logistic support to operating forces, had departed an air station in Cherry Point in eastern North Carolina to transport personnel and equipment to a naval air field in El Centro, Calif., officials said.
The plane crashed near U.S. 82, on a stretch of fields near the Sunflower-Leflore county line,…