Military plane crashes in Savannah, Georgia, airport official says

(CNN) — Emergency crews are responding to a military cargo plane crash Wednesday near Savannah, Georgia, said a spokeswoman for the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.

Five people were onboard the aircraft, and their conditions are unknown, Georgia Department of Defense spokesperson Desiree Bamba tells CNN.

The US Air Force confirmed that WC-130 that crash is from the 156th Airlift Wing in Puerto Rico.  A local firefighters’ union reports the crash happened in the Savannah suburb of Port Wentworth.

“It was horrible,” said Denver Goodwin, who works at a wrecker service down the street from the crash. “The ground shook like a bomb was going off. All the people in the building started panicking. It was absolutely horrible.”

Mary Hennessy Cogar was at her place of employment, about 4 miles south of the crash, and said she felt the impact.

“Our building shook and the lights flickered. We heard a boom of the crash and then a louder boom of the explosion,” she told CNN.

The crash did not occur at the airport but a few miles away, off state Highway 21, airport spokeswoman Candace Carpenter said. Smoke was visible from the airport.

Video from CNN affiliate WSAV shows thick black smoke and flames billowing from what appears to be a green hangar or warehouse.

Minh Phan was at an outlet mall in Pooler, Georgia, a few miles away when he captured an image of smoke rising over the tree line.

A tweet from the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association showed the tail of the plane emerging from black smoke and fire. Highway 21 has been shut down, the union said.

Last month, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, released a statement saying the “readiness of the military is at a crisis point” after reports that 16 American service members had been killed in noncombat aircraft crashes over a matter of weeks.

Last summer, the Marine Corps ground its fleet of KC-130T aircraft, a variant of the C-130, following a crash that killed 15 Marines and one sailor in Mississippi.