"This pains us", he said of the deaths.
NPR's Nicole Hernandez contributed to this report.
A crew of nine Puerto Ricans were killed when a military cargo plane crashed near Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport minutes after takeoff, sending black smoke billowing into the sky. "Our prayers, thoughts and condolences to the families and loved ones of our aviators".
"We don't know the cause of the crash", he said.
No cars were hit on the ground but power was cut to the area of the crash, said Genta Bilbo, a spokeswoman for the Effingham County Sheriff's Department. Barnes frantically called 911.
What is a C-130?Jose Rafael Roman. The mayor of Manati, which is along Puerto Rico's north coast, said Roman was a father of two young boys and his wife is five months pregnant with a baby girl.
"It is an absolute miracle at that time of day and at that intersection", she said.
Mark Jones was nearby when he says he saw the plane low in the air.
"I looked over to my right and seen the plane at very low altitude and making a hard left turn to the ground", he said. The Air Force and the National Guard Bureau are investigating the accident.
"There were airmen on the plane who were deceased, but we're not giving out any numbers at this time", Parsons said.
The 60-year-old plane, which was being repaired in Savannah before it took off Wednesday morning, had been used in relief efforts for several hurricanes in the Caribbean, including Hurricane Maria last fall. The plane was bound for Arizona.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, and firefighters were still working to make the crash site safe for investigators, Georgia Air National Guard Senior Master Sergeant Roger Parsons said. Belonging to the 156th Air Wing, it was used to rescue USA citizens stranded in the British Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma and ferry supplies to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria previous year. A spokesman for the Guard said there were nine people on the WC-130 cargo plane that went down Wednesday near Savannah. The incident resulted in at least 5 people were killed.
As reported, the aircraft crashed near 11:30 a. m. today shortly after taking off from Savannah Airport in the course of a routine mission to Arizona. A witness, Michael Garrett, told WSAV-TV the plane was upside down before it crashed. He said a military mortuary assistance team arrived overnight, but he didn't know if all the bodies had been recovered. The WC-130 is used for weather reconnaissance, it said. The 165th Air Wing out of Savannah was responding to the crash.