Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport said on social media that some flights were being affected though the crash happened off its property.
Officials did not publicly name any of the people aboard the plane who were confirmed or believed dead, except to say they were all Puerto Ricans.
Capt. Jeff Bezore of the Georgia Air National Guard's 165th Air Wing told the AP he couldn't say how many people in total were on the plane. The plane was at least 50 years old, according to an official familiar with the aircraft.
"One of the items that the investigators will be looking at is whether the cargo was loaded properly, or whether it shifted during takeoff, rendering the airplane uncontrollable for the pilot", Booth said.
"It miraculously did not hit any cars, any homes", Effingham County Sheriff's spokeswoman Gena Bilbo said.
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The plane had been in Savannah for "a number of days" undergoing routine maintenance, said Maj.
"There were definitely cars going both ways", he said "...
Chatham County Emergency Management Agency tweeted: "There has been a plane crash at the intersection of Hwy 21 at Crossgate Rd".
New video from a security camera shows a military plane crashing in Savannah near the worldwide airport.
Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico said on Twitter that the episode was an "unfortunate accident", an assessment that the military echoed in its initial statement.
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But hours after the crash, details became clear and the nine-member crew did not survive.
"It's a tragedy and my heart goes out to the families involved in this", he told us, adding, "It's a sad day".
"The planes that we have in Puerto Rico - it's not news today that they are the oldest planes on inventory" among all National Guard planes nationwide, and they often face delays in getting spare parts shipped to the island, he said. "Please avoid the area".
A photo tweeted by the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association shows the tail end of a plane and a field of flames and black smoke along the side of a road as an ambulance stands nearby. "No impacts to airport operations at this time".
In Georgia, where the governor observed a moment of silence for the crash victims at a bill signing in Statesboro, officials said they expected the inquiry into the crash to be protracted, as well as potentially disruptive to day-to-day life in the surrounding Port Wentworth community outside Savannah.
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"There was a loud boom, and our lights flickered on and off", Majors said.