Australia wildfires: Three American firefighters die as water-bombing plane crashes

Three US firefighters died after Australia's water-bombing plane crashed into Snowy mountains, in New South Wales (NSW)

Three US residents, who were contracted for fighting Australia's wildfires, ravaging the nation's eastern region, for months, have died in a plane crash. The water-bombing plane, a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, lost contact on Thursday before 13:30 (local time) and crashed in the Snowy mountains.

Water bombing plane crashed into Snowy mountains

The fatal accident occurred on Thursday, as the plane crashed into Australia's Snowy Mountains, situated about 200 km south of the capital Canberra. The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSWRFS) had earlier issued a statement about the loss of contact with the water-bombing plane and the probability of it having crashed.

C-130 Hercules

Later the news of the plane having crashed was confirmed. The three American crew on board lost their lives. The cause of the accident isn't known yet and the identities of the deceased are being ascertained.

"The only thing I have from the field reports are that the plane came down, it's crashed and there was a large fireball associated with that crash", NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, all we've been able to do is locate the wreckage and the crash site and we have not been able to locate any survivors," he said. The warmer temperature and windy conditions, since Wednesday, caused fire conditions in the region to deteriorate.

NSW RFS statement

Condolences pour in

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that the news of the plane crash was "heartbreaking and devastating". "Today, again demonstrates the fire season is far from over," she told reporters, BBC reported.

She offered condolences to the families of the deceased.

Gladys Berejiklian

C-130 Hercules

The water-bombing plane, which has the potential to carry 15,000 litres of water or fire retardant, was leased by Australia by the North American firm, Coulson Aviation, as part of the seasonal arrangement. Pending investigation into the incident, all large air tanker aircraft operations have been suspended for the rest of the day.