While performing a training mission, an U.S. C-130 "Hercules" cargo plane from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard crashed about 11:30 a.m. today near the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport with 5 people on board. (1/2)— National Guard (@USNationalGuard) May 2, 2018
The U.S. Air Force said that an Air National Guard C-130 from the 156th Airlift Wing in Puerto Rico went down in the area. The 165th Airlift Wing of the Georgia Air National Guard responded to the scene, according to the Air Force.
Capt. Jeff Bezore, a spokesman for the Georgia Air National Guard's 165th Air Wing, told ABC News the crash killed at least five people. He said he couldn't say how many people in total were on the plane when it crashed around 11:30 a.m., although the National guard tweeted that five people were on board.
The National Guard also tweeted that the aircraft was performing a training mission when it crashed.
Maj. Paul Dahlen, a spokesman for the Puerto Rico National Guard, told The Associated Press that all those aboard were Puerto Ricans who had recently left the U.S. territory for a mission on the U.S. mainland. He said initial information indicated there were five to nine people aboard the plane, which was heading to Arizona. He did not have details on the mission.
The plane had been in Savannah for "a number of days" undergoing routine maintenance, Dahlen said.
"It's a sad day for the National Guard, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of everyone involved and everyone with the National Guard as we work through this," he said.
"We don't know the cause of the crash," Dahlen said.
Local members currently on scene assisting with clean up. pic.twitter.com/lSuRcqTx56— IAFF574 Savannah (@IAFF574) May 2, 2018
A photo from the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association showed the tail of the plane protruding from smoke and fire. State Highway 21 was shut down. Another photo showed debris strewn across the roadway.
The only part of the plane that remained intact was the tail section, the assistant public information officer with the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association, Chris Hanks said. The tail section was sitting on Highway 21 and the ground in front of it was black and littered with debris, he said.
Savannah's Air National Guard base has been heavily involved in hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. In September 2017, it was designated as the hub of operations to the U.S. territory in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Maria.
Some flights at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport were being affected, though the crash happened off its property.