Military plane crashes in Washington state, 3 feared dead

SEATTLE Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:52pm GMT

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - A military plane assigned to a Washington state Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island crashed on Monday morning, a base spokesman said, and local media reports indicated that three people were feared dead.

The plane, a Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler, a twin-engine electronic warfare aircraft, went down sometime before 8:45 a.m. local time in Lincoln County in eastern Washington state, spokesman Mike Welding said.

"It was flying out there. I don't know exactly what it was doing," Welding said. "Everything is really preliminary at this point."

The Navy said it had personnel investigating the rural area roughly 50 miles east of Spokane, where the crew was conducting a routine training flight.

Welding could not immediately say how many people were on board or give any details on casualties. But the Spokane Spokesman-Review cited Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers as saying three people were on board and believed killed.

Seattle's KOMO news television also quoted Magers as saying no survivors were found.

The base where the plane was assigned is located on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, north of Seattle. The plane crashed roughly 10 miles from Harrington.

Stan Dammel, the manager of a local airport who surveyed the crash site from his own aircraft, said he saw a deep patch of scorched earth and scattered debris.

"It just looked like an explosion," said Dammel.

(Reporting By Eric Johnson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Bernard Orr and Dan Grebler)

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