Captain Sarah Burns, a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps, said only that a U.S. Marines KC-130 Hercules transport aircraft had "experienced a mishap," with news media initially reporting five confirmed deaths.
Several hours later, Fred Randle, LeFlore County director of emergency management, told Reuters that at least 16 people had perished. Randle gave no further details of the incident.
WSOC-TV in Charlotte reported, citing the Federal Aviation Administration, that the flight originated from Cherry Point, North Carolina, where a Marine Corps air base is located.
FBI spokesman Brett Carr told the New York Times that the agency was sending officials to the scene, but authorities did not believe foul play was involved.
"We’re just trying to offer any type of assistance," Carr, a spokesman for the bureau’s Jackson, Mississippi office, told the newspaper. "It could be anything from manpower to evidence response."
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said in a statement on social media site Facebook that the incident was a tragedy, but provided no details.Read more at Reuters