military plane with 38 people on board has disappeared en route to Antarctica,
Chile’s air force says.
C-130 Hercules transport aircraft took off from Punta Arenas at 16:55 local
time (19:55 GMT), and operators lost contact at 18:13 (21:13).
missing include 17 crew and 21 passengers.
were travelling to provide logistical support to a military base on
Antarctica’s King George Island. A search-and-rescue mission is under way.
Force Gen Eduardo Mosqueira told local media that the plane did not activate
any distress signal. He said the plane, whose pilot had extensive experience,
may have been forced to touch down on water.
force statement said that the plane was about 450 miles (725km) into its
770-mile journey when contact was lost, placing it within the Drake Passage.
The air force published a map of the plane’s last known location on Twitter:
The Drake Passage is a body of water
connecting the South Atlantic and South Pacific oceans, and is known for
treacherous weather conditions. But Chile’s air force said local weather was
good at the time of the plane’s disappearance.
It also said that the plane would have had
enough fuel to keep airborne until 00:40.
Who is on board?
Three of the passengers are Chilean soldiers,
two are civilians employed by engineering and construction firm Inproser who
were going to carry out work on the military base, one is a student at
Magellanes University and the remaining 15 passengers are members of the Air
Force, an official said.
The C-130 is also staffed by 17 crew members.
The Air Force said it was contacting the families of all those on board.
What is being done?
Air Force Gen Francisco Torres said that the search for the plane had “begun immediately” after it had failed to arrive at the military base in Antarctica. Eight planes and four ships are taking part in the search operation. An initial over-flight of the area where communication was lost failed to yield any sign of the missing plane. Rescuers are currently searching inside a 60-mile radius from the last point of contact.