(CN) – A U.S. Marine aircraft that crashed into a Mississippi soybean field Monday evening killed 15 Marines and one Navy Corpsman after the flight originating from North Carolina disappeared from air traffic control radar, officials said Tuesday.
A Marine spokesman said the KC-130T aircraft carrying a Marine Forces Reserve aerial refueling and transport squadron was transporting personnel and equipment to Naval Air Facility El Centro in California when air traffic controllers lost sight of it over Mississippi.
The cause of the crash is still unknown and officials have not yet released the names of the service members killed in the rural field, about 85 miles north of Jackson.
“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,” Marine Corps. spokesman Capt. Andy Chrestman said in a news release.
Equipment on board included various small arms ammunition and personal weapons. An Explosive Ordinance Disposal team was at the scene early Tuesday as a precaution, the news release said.
According to Lockheed Martin, the KC-130 aircraft is an extended-range tanker version of its C-130 Hercules that has been modified for aerial refueling. It is used for refueling, humanitarian mission, firefighting, search and rescue, and combat missions.