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C-130 firefighting aircraft crashes in Australia

January 22, 2020 (by Asif Shamim) - An EC-130 firefighting aircraft from Coulson Aviation has crashed in the Monaro Area in Australian state of New South Wales while combating forest fires, killing three crew members.

Coulson Flying Tankers #N130CG is seen powering up on the ramp at Sacramento McClellan Airport on April 20, 2019. Note new paint scheme being used by Coulson. [Photo by TSTP350]

Flight tracking websites show the aircraft taking off from Sydney’s Richmond air base around 12.15hrs local time on Thursday, before its path disappears off radar south of Canberra.

The commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Shane Fitzsimmons, has confirmed the crash.

“Tragically, there appear to be no survivors as a result of the crash down in the Snowy Monaro area,” said Fitzsimmons.

“(The tanker) impacted heavily with the ground and initial reports are that there was a large fireball associated with the impact of the plane as it hit the ground. There is no indication at this stage of what’s caused the accident.”

The crash occurred near the Peak View area, which lies 130km to the south of Canberra in mountainous terrain. Australian television reports that the site has been located by helicopters.

Coulson Aviation (USA) released a statement in which it confirmed that aircraft involved was #N134CG and had left Richmond NSW with a load of retardant and was on a firebombing mission. A response tean from the company has been activatied and will attend the incident and will work with local emergency teams.

All three crew were American citizen have been named as Captain Ian McBeth, 45, first officer Paul Clyde Hudson, 43, and flight engineer Rick A DeMorgan Jr, 44.

New South Wales (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian called it an "unbelievable loss" and offered a state memorial.

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Additional images:

Coulson Flying Tankers #N134CG is seen doing a touch and go landing at Sacramento International Airport on May 25, 2019. [Photo by Talbert Reese]

The crash site of EC-130 #N134CG near Cooma in southern NSW. [Photo credit NSW Police]

The tail of EC-130 #N134CG which crashed on Thursday lies amid debris in southern NSW. [Photo credit NSW Police]