Update: Nine presumed dead, as opposed to the initial report of five.

Savannah, GA — An Air National Guard WC-130 has crashed, killing at least nine crew on board. Firefighters responded to the scene and put out the fires from the burning wreckage, but unfortunately were unable to find any survivors. The total number of those killed is still not currently known and the manifest of the plane (and the names on it) will remain out of the public eye until the next of kin are properly notified.

The crash happened on Georgia Highway 21 just before noon. The cause of the crash is also unknown — it was in Savannah for some maintenance and would be on its way to Arizona.

The Air Force said in a statement that the WC-130 hailed from the 156th Air Wing in Puerto Rico and had apparently recently left Puerto Rico to conduct a training mission over the United States.

The primary mission of a WC-130 is weather reconnaissance, and they are simply C-130 that have been modified to suit this purpose. They are the primary source of weather data for the National Hurricane Center and they can fly through cyclones and hurricanes (depending on the severity of the storm), as well as over them. There may be other uses for the plane, but they have not been made public. Being based out of Puerto Rico, it is likely that this plane has seen quite a bit of use in the last year.

Be it a combat death overseas or a training mission like this, any military deaths must go through proper channels before being made to the public. Often, rumors already begin to circulate, names are thrown onto social media as possible fallen service members — all such rumors or posts (no matter how grounded in reality) should be disregarded until the official notifications come out. Even if one family member has been notified and they post something online, that doesn’t mean that the other families have been made aware yet.

Featured image courtesy of IAFF574 Savannah, via Twitter.

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