Chilean military plane lost at sea with 38 on board

December 11, 2019
A Chilean air force map of the area in which the plane was lost.

A Chilean military plane with 38 people on board has gone missing on it its way to Antarctica.

The Chilean air force lost contact with the Hercules C-130 aircraft Monday evening as it headed to base in Antarctica with 17 crew and 21 passengers on board.

A statement released early Tuesday by the Chilean air force said there had been no contact with the plane for more than seven hours and it would likely have run out of fuel.

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It said a search was underway in the area where communication was lost in an attempt to rescue any potential survivors.

A ship had been in the general area when contact was lost about 6:13 pm local time, less than two hours after the plane took off from the southern city of Punta Arenas, about 3000 km south of Santiago.

It was estimated the plane would have run out of fuel about 12:40 am.

Drake Passage, where the aircraft was lost, is infamous for bad weather and Defense Minister Alberto Espina was pessimistic about the chance of finding survivors.

“The chances are difficult but I think it would be profoundly wrong to lose heart at this moment when we are doing everything humanly possible and with all our energy and determination,” Aljazeera quoted him as saying.

“The air force has provided a thorough investigation to clarify the facts with complete transparency.”