Probe begins into deadly crash of firefighting tanker in Australia

SYDNEY (AFP) – Investigators yesterday began searching the wreckage of a large tanker aircraft which crashed while battling devastating bushfires in Australia, killing three United States (US) crew members.

The C-130 Hercules plane slammed into the ground last Thursday shortly after dropping a load of fire retardant on a blaze in the Snowy Mountains region of southeastern New South Wales (NSW) state. The plane burst into a fireball on impact and debris were strewn over a kilometre-long stretch of land, with little of the large aircraft left intact, NSW Police Superintendant Paul Condon told a press conference near the site.

Chief of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Greg Hood said it would be “premature” to speculate on the cause of the crash, but he noted that strong winds had raked much of the fire zones of southeastern Australia on Thursday.

“We will be working with the Australian bureau of meteorology specifically to look at the temperature, the wind direction and the impact that may have had on the aircraft,” he said.