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Turbulence injures 20 West Virginia guardsmen

None seriously hurt when transport plane hits rough air

The C-130 Hercules transport, like the one shown here, landed safely at Oceania Naval Air Station.
The C-130 Hercules transport, like the one shown here, landed safely at Oceania Naval Air Station.

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NORFOLK, Virginia (CNN) -- Twenty members of the West Virginia Air National Guard were injured Saturday when their military transport plane experienced severe turbulence en route from Puerto Rico, a spokesman at Oceania Naval Air Station told CNN.

Troy Sneed, the civilian public information officer, said the pilot of the C-130 Hercules aircraft asked to land at Oceania, near Virginia Beach, at about 1 p.m. EDT after he encountered turbulence 60 miles from the air station.

The cargo transport touched down about 15 minutes later, Sneed said.

"There were 40 passengers aboard," he said. "Twenty were injured and transferred to local hospitals."

Four of those injured were seriously hurt, he said, but none critically.

"They had a lot of bruises," he said, "the kind of injuries you get when you're jostled around."

A helicopter from CNN affiliate WAVY-TV guided the military medevac helicopter from the air station to the closest hospital after arriving to cover the C-130's landing.

Five hospitals were treating the injured.

The plane was en route to Martinsburg, West Virginia, Sneed said. He did not know why the plane and the guardsmen had been in Puerto Rico.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Plante contributed to this report.

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