July 12 (UPI) -- Seven of 16 service members who died in the crash of a transport plane were part of a special operations unit, the U.S. Marine Corps announced.
The KC-130T plane crashed into a soybean field in Mississippi's Leflore County on Monday while traveling from Cherry Point, N.C., to El Centro, Calif. The cause of the crash remains undetermined.
Six Marines and one Navy member aboard the plane were members of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., traveling to Yuma, Ariz., for pre-deployment training, a Marine Corps statement said. Their unit is part of Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command. The other nine Marines aboard, and the plane, were based in Newburgh, N.Y., Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said.
Federal Aviation Administration officials contacted the Marines when the aircraft disappeared from air traffic control radar as it flew over Mississippi, officials said. The plane burned after it struck the ground, and possible unexploded ordnance and ammunition could be surrounding the plane and hampering investigation, WLBT-TV, Jackson, Miss., reported.
Debris from the crash covered both sides of Highway 82 in the Mississippi delta, between the towns of Itta Bena and Moorehead, Miss.
"Out of precaution, we just wanted to make sure people do not approach, just out of general safety," Marine Corps Maj. Andrew Aranda said.MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS