EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- A military transport plane crashed into a parking lot off a busy highway Thursday, spewing burning fuel into a hotel and nearby restaurant and killing 16 people, including 11 on the ground, authorities said.
Nine of the victims were trapped in the Drury Inn and two perished in JoJo's Restaurant, the Vanderburgh County coroner's office said. Five members of the plane's crew also died.
There were conflicting reports on other possible victims still trapped in the ruins but authorities said Thursday evening it appeared the death toll would stand at 16.
The Kentucky Air National Guard C-130B was doing touch-and-go maneuvers at Evansville's Dress Airport when it crashed into a parking lot, sending flames 50 to 60 feet in the air.
Thirteen other injured people were taken to area hospitals, three of whom were then transferred to burn units in Louisville and Indianapolis.
One of those hurt was a man who apparently suffered a heart attack when he went to the scene of the inferno to look for his wife, who was injured in the blaze.
Hours after the crash firefighters continued to put out hot spots at the scene.
Indiana State Police Maj. Alvin Carraway said there were reports earlier of individuals trapped in the four-story hotel. There were also reports of explosions and fire after the crash, Carraway said.
'We were standing in the lobby and heard this awful noise,' said Barbara Barnes, manager of the Regal 8 motel about a block away from the crash. 'The flames and smoke shot clear to the sky.'
James Stamm, a moving company executive who was just six blocks from the crash, said the plane nosed in, diving into the restaurant parking lot.
'It was flying overhead and it was headed in a southwest direction and it started to make a turn, a 180-degree turn,' said Fred Pratt, a driver for a local moving company.
'It looked like it was heading back to the runway. I noticed erratic movement in the tail and then it started heading straight down.'
U.S. 41 was closed in the vicinity of the crash. The highway is lined with motels and hotels.
Ambulances and other emergency crews rushed to the scene along with aircraft investigators and state emergency officials.
'What that C-130 was doing was touch-and-gos at Evansville regional airport. It's a common thing for them to do. It's a training maneuver,' airport Manager Sandy Adler said.
David Altom, public affairs officer for the Kentucky National Guard, said the plane was on a training flight from Fort Campbell, Ky. He said the C-130B Lockheed Hercules was part of the 123rd Tactical Air Wing of the Kentucky Guard.
The crash brought back memories of a fatal crash on Dec. 14, 1977, that killed 29 people, including all 14 members of the University of Evansville basketball team, the head coach and their entourage.
The DC-3 chartered plane had just taken off from Dress Airport for Murfreesboro, Tenn., for a game against Middle Tennessee State University, when it crashed into a wooded hillside.
More recently, a military jet fighter ripped into the lobby of a Ramada Inn near the Indianapolis International Airport, killing nine and injuring six. The pilot, Air Force Maj. Bruce L. Teagarden, survived by ejecting from the plane only seconds before the October 1987 crash.
The A-7D Corsair II attack jet was traveling from Pittsburgh to Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas when the pilot noticed engine trouble and tried to land. The crash caused a raging fire that gutted the 155-room hotel.