Three people dead after firefighting air tanker crashes in Snowy Monaro

RiotACT report: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed three people have lost their lives after a large air tanker contracted to the RFS crashed in the Snowy Monaro area earlier today.

ESA Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said all three occupants were US citizens. Police and the ATSB are investigating the crash and undertaking recovery operations.

It was earlier reported that the aircraft, a Lockheed EC-130 Hercules, registration N134CG, was carrying out a search on the Good Good fire ground north-east of Cooma. The Australian Defence Force is helping locate the wreckage of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules firefighting air tanker that crashed this afternoon claiming the three lives of its American crew.

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the plane had deployed from the Richmond RAAF base with a load of fire retardant.

It was headed for the Good Good fire ground north-east of Cooma.

Mr Fitzsimmons said the loss “hurts deeply”.

The aircraft was contracted through American aerial firefighting company Coulson Aviation. They have grounded their fleet as a precaution and mark of respect.

The RFS lost contact with a C-130 Hercules, similar to this one. Photo: Facebook NSW RFS.