A military helicopter burst into flames after crashing on an Alabama highway during a routine training mission.
Two Tennessee National Guardsmen have been killed in the ‘heartbreaking tragedy’ on Wednesday afternoon.
Onlookers have claimed there was no chance of anyone surviving when the Black Hawk helicopter hit the ground.
It ‘exploded on impact and was burning’ when firefighters arrived shortly after 3pm, spokesperson for Madison County Sheriff’s office, Brent Patterson, said.
Pictures show black smoke billowing into the air on Highway 53, near the intersection of Burrell Road in Madison County.
The two bodies were found onboard. No others were injured in the crash.
Speaking afterwards, police said the aircraft was ‘a total loss’, adding: ‘It’s a pile of rubble’.
The reasons behind the crash remain unknown and an investigation has been launched by federal and state authorities.
Witness Tammy Adams told ABC affiliate WAAY she initially thought she’d heard a car without a muffler before looking up to see the helicopter.
‘Then bam, we heard a hit. We saw it hit the ground and it exploded’, she said. ‘We knew there could not be anybody surviving that.’
Another onlooker, Chermonica Johnson, added: ‘There’s nothing there, at all You can’t even tell it was an aircraft.’
Brig. Gen. Warner Ross, Tennessee’s Adjutant General, said: ‘We are deeply saddened by the loss of two Tennessee National Guardsmen, and our prayers are with their families during this heartbreaking tragedy.
‘We ask Tennesseans to join us in supporting their families during this time of unthinkable grief.’
Meanwhile, National Guard spokesperson Robert Carver has warned ‘it is premature to discuss possible causes of the crash’.
‘Like all military aircraft mishaps, the incident will be investigated’, he said. ‘The National Guard will support law enforcement and other first responders handling the crash site.’
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