WASHINGTON: The US Marine Corps transport plane that crashed, killing all 16 troops aboard, plummeted to the ground after "something went wrong" while at cruising altitude, a general said Wednesday.
The Marine Reserves KC-130T plane was heading from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina on Monday on a mission to transport personnel and equipment to Naval Air Field El Centro, California.
It crashed in rural Mississippi after losing contact with air traffic control at about 2100 GMT, Brigadier General Bradley James said.
"Indications are something went wrong at cruise altitude," he said at a news conference.
"There is a large debris pattern," he added, noting there were two large impact areas a mile apart.
Among the dead were six Marines and one Navy sailor from the Marines' special operations command, who were heading for pre-deployment training.
James said all the families had been notified but the names of the victims would not be released for a few days.
"On board were 16 great Americans representing the US Marine Corps and US Navy," James said.
Accidents involving US military aircraft are not uncommon, but rarely do they claim so many lives.
The crash of a twin-engine C-23 Sherpa in the southern state of Georgia in March 2001 claimed the lives of 21 people.
In April 2000, 19 people were killed in the crash of a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft that flies like a plane but can hover and land like a helicopter.