Three people have died after a firefighting air tanker crashed in southern New South Wales, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed. 

The aircraft, a C-130 water-bombing aeroplane, went down at 1.30pm. The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) confirmed the incident earlier this afternoon, reporting it had launched an investigation after losing contact with the aeroplane.

“Tragically, there appears to be no survivors as a result of the crash down in the Snowy Monaro area,” Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told media.

He confirmed that all three people killed were American residents.

“We simply lost contact with the machine and the flight tracker we used stopped,” he said. “There is no indication at this stage of what’s caused the accident.”

Fitzsimmons said it was “very difficult to locate the wreckage”, and said the area is still an “active fire ground.”

Coulson Aviation, the aerial firefighting company who provided the plane, have grounded their large air tankers this afternoon as a mark of respect and pending review to ensure there are no systematic issues like a fuel problem.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three crew members onboard,” Coulson said.

In a statement on Twitter, Prime Minister Scott Morrison sent his deepest condolences to the families of those lost.

“Deeply saddened to learn of the death of 3 people in the crash of a C130 fire fighting aircraft, north east of Cooma in NSW earlier today,” he said. “My deepest condolences to the loved ones, friends and colleagues of those who have lost their lives. Such a terrible tragedy.”

Image: AP