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Air Force Plane Crashes in N.M., Killing Crew of 11

Associated Press

An Air Force search-and-rescue airplane carrying 11 crew members crashed in a ball of flames Wednesday in a desolate area of west-central New Mexico, and authorities said all aboard were killed.

The HC-130 plane was assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base at Albuquerque, said Kay Peterson, spokeswoman at the base. Ruben Leal, public affairs specialist at Kirtland, said the airplane was on a routine training mission.

Rudy Chavez, state police dispatcher in Socorro, said the medical investigator reported that all aboard the aircraft were dead.

Bob Hlady, spokesman for University of New Mexico Hospital, said the hospital’s helicopter ambulance was dispatched to the scene but “did not come back with anybody.”

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Joe Sanchez, a ranch hand, said he witnessed the accident from about 10 miles away.

“We saw a big ball of smoke, then another one, then a big ball of fire,” he said.

Sanchez said he met sheriff’s officers on the way to the crash site and went to the scene in an isolated area known as Bear Mountain.

A board of officers will investigate the crash, Peterson said.

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