Nine military members were on board a C-130 aircraft when it came crashing down onto Highway 21 in Port Wentworth on Wednesday.
The cargo plane, operated by the Puerto Rico National Guard, crashed at 11:28 a.m. shortly after taking off from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.
The crash happened on a usually busy roadway near train tracks, but no one on the ground was injured. Officials say the most devastating loss happened on board.
“To our knowledge, there are no survivors,” said Gena Bilbo with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office.
Surveillance video from a nearby business shows video of the cargo plane nose-diving before a cloud of thick black smoke appeared.
Puerto Rico National Guard officials say the plane was on the way to Arizona. The aircraft was attached to the Air Transport Wing 156 of the Muñiz Air National Guard Base.
“While we are waiting for more information regarding this unfortunate accident, my thoughts and those of Beatriz are with the families of the crew,” said Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares in a press release. “They will receive our support and that of the National Guard of Puerto Rico in this process.”
The identities of the deceased have not been released at this time. Their relatives will first be notified.
“This is going to drastically affect your life for an extended period of time, said Chief Matt Libby with the Port Wentworth Police Department. “I wish I could tell you more as to how long. We just don’t know.”
A 600′ x 600′ debris field remains as a result of the crash.
A board of military officers will be conducting a full investigation at the scene. Cleanup up on the aircraft and debris field will not be conducted until the investigation is concluded.
Hazardous materials will also need to be mitigated from the roadway. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) will then evaluate repairs as needed.
Leaders from Port Wentworth to Washington have been weighing in on today’s tragedy.
News 3 spoke with Port Wentworth Mayor Gary Norton shortly after the crash.
“It’s a tragedy and my heart goes out to the families involved in this,” he told us, adding, “It’s a sad day.”
Governor Nathan Deal stopped in Statesboro for his bill signing. He took a moment of silence for those involved in the incident.
President Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon, stating he had been briefed on the C-130 crash.
“Please join me in thoughts and prayers for the victims, their families and the great men and women of the National Guard,” he wrote.
Anyone with photos or videos of the crash can direct their information to the 165th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office. Call 912-966-8290 for further details.
News 3 will continue to follow this developing story on-air and online.