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[Updated] Puerto Rico Air National Guard WC-130 crashes in Georgia killing nine crew members

The WC-130 crashed at the intersection of Highway 21 at Crossgate Road just northeast of the Savannah airport

Nine crew members aboard a WC-130 are dead after the Hercules from the 156th Airlift Wing in Puerto Rico crashed on May 2, 2018 near Savannah, Georgia.

The WC-130 was flying from Savannah, Georgia, to Tucson, Arizona, where it was to be decommissioned and stored at the U.S. Air Force (USAF) “Boneyard,” the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (309 AMARG). The plane had been in Savannah for “a number of days” undergoing routine maintenance, said Maj. Paul Dahlen, spokesman for the Puerto Rico National Guard. “We don’t know the cause of the crash,” he said.

The WC-130 crashed at the intersection of Highway 21 at Crossgate Road just northeast of the Savannah airport, according to Chatham Emergency Management Agency.

As reported by CNN a tweet from the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association showed the tail of the plane protruding from thick smoke and fire. State Highway 21 has been shut down, the union said. Another union photo showed debris strewn across the highway, the asphalt a deep black beneath the debris.

“As far as we know, no cars were hit, which is an absolute miracle,” said Gena Bilbo, spokeswoman for the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office.

The Georgia Department of Transportation will need to inspect nearby train tracks for damage, and roadways involved could be closed for weeks, she said. Power has been cut in the area as authorities investigate, she added.

The 156th Airlift Wing is the primary unit of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard and is located at Muñiz Air National Guard Base. The 156th Airlift Wing flies the WC-130 Hercules, an aircraft that is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for air dropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.

The mission of the 156th Airlift Wing is to provide global airlift and agile force to execute and accomplish tasked mission. Support Southern Command in theater airlift and joint military exercises while displaying military capabilities and bolster U.S. ties with our Latin American neighbors.

Photo credit: Chris Hanks/Savannah Professional Firefighters Association via AP

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