Rescue planes and ships yesterday searched the open sea between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica for a Chilean Air Force plane that went missing with 38 people aboard.
The C-130 Hercules cargo plane vanished after departing an airbase in the southern city of Punta Arenas Monday at 4:55 pm (19:55 GMT) en route to Chile’s Antarctic base of Eduardo Frei, officials said.
Contact was lost with the plane at 6:13 pm (2130 GMT), the Chilean Air Force said, adding that the plane had enough fuel to remain in the air for several hours beyond that time. But seven hours after losing communication officials declared that the plane had crashed.
The airplane pilot may have carried out an emergency ocean landing, said Eduardo Mosqueira, commander of the Fourth Brigade based in Punta Arenas, early yesterday.
Airplanes and ships from Uruguay, Argentina and Chile had joined in the search, officials said.
The plane went missing while flying over the Drake Passage, a maritime route between South America and Antarctica frequently hit by some of the world’s worst weather.
The names of those aboard the missing airplane were released. Most were air force personnel, but also included three people from the army, two from a private construction company and an official from a Chilean university.