A military cargo plane on a training mission crashed along a road near a US airport, killing at least five National Guard members from Puerto Rico, authorities said.
Black smoke rose into the sky from a section of the Air National Guard C-130 plane that appeared to have crashed into a median on the road.
Firefighters later put out the blaze.
Captain Jeff Bezore, a spokesman for the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Air Wing, said the crash killed at least five people.
He said he could not say how many people in total were on the plane when it crashed in Savannah, Georgia.
The Air Force said the plane belonged to the 156th Air Wing out of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico National Guard Spokesman Major Paul Dahlen told The Associated Press that all those aboard were Puerto Ricans who had recently left the US territory for a mission on the US mainland.
I have been briefed on the U.S. C-130 âHerculesâ cargo plane from the Puerto Rico National Guard that crashed near Savannah Hilton Head International Airport. Please join me in thoughts and prayers for the victims, their families and the great men and women of the National Guard.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2018
He said initial information indicated there were five to nine people aboard the plane, which was heading to Arizona.
He did not have details on the mission.
Military c130 down at 21 and Gulfstream Rd. Avoid the area. 21 shut down until further notice. pic.twitter.com/6hUqwmkNUu— IAFF574 Savannah (@IAFF574) May 2, 2018
“It’s a sad day for the National Guard, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of everyone involved and everyone with the National Guard as we work through this,” he said.
A photo tweeted by the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association shows the tail end of a plane and a field of flames and black smoke as an ambulance stood nearby.
Local members currently on scene assisting with clean up. pic.twitter.com/lSuRcqTx56— IAFF574 Savannah (@IAFF574) May 2, 2018
The only part of the plane that remained intact was the tail section, said Chris Hanks, the assistant public information officer with the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association.
The tail section was sitting on Highway 21 and the ground in front of it was black and littered with debris, he said.
The Savannah Air National Guard said the plane was on a training mission when it crashed near the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.
While performing a training mission, an U.S. C-130 "Hercules" cargo plane from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard crashed about 11:30 a.m. today near the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport with 5 people on board. (1/2)— National Guard (@USNationalGuard) May 2, 2018
Savannah’s Air National Guard base has been heavily involved in hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.
In September 2017, it was designated by the Air National Guard as the hub of operations to the island in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the base announced at the time.
Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport said on social media that some flights were being affected though the crash happened off its property.
The airport advised passengers to check with their airline for updated flight information.
President Donald Trump tweeted to say that he had been briefed on the incident, adding: “Please join me in thoughts and prayers for the victims, their families and the great men and women of the National Guard.”