Chilean Air Force Says Missing Plane “Crashed”

SANTIAGO – Chile’s Air Force said the C-130 Hercules plane that disappeared yesterday evening has probably crashed. The missing plane, with 38 personnel and passengers aboard, was headed for Antarctica. Although hopes to find survivors are dim, search efforts continue.

After a night of fruitless searching, Chile’s Air Force (FACh) admitted that the missing C-130 must have crashed by now. Taking off in Punta Arenas, the plane was bound for Antarctica but disappeared on December 9 from the radar.

In a release, the Air Force said the aircraft had enough fuel to remain in air only until 00:40 am. It took off from Chabunco Air Base at 04:55 pm and was expected at Presidente Eduardo Frei Air Base, Antarctica, at 7:17 pm. But at 06:13 pm contact was lost.  

The Air Force said it contacted passengers’ families and further ramped up rescue operations, which are now supported by Uruguayan vessels, to find possible survivors of an emergency landing. 

The aircraft was transporting personnel to revise a floating fuel pipeline at the Antarctic base and perform anti-corrosive treatments. On board were 15 FACh members, three army members, two employees of an environmental services company and an academic from Universidad de Magallanes.   

Rescue for Missing Plane

According to news outlet Bio Bio Chile, Commander Eduardo Mosqueira said the crew did not send any warnings or raise alarms.

After the signal was lost, the Air Force sent four ships and rotating military vehicles to search for the plane. But as midnight approached, and the plane’s fuel would be running out, two fighter planes were ordered to do extensive searches, crisscrossing the area where the plane went missing.

This morning, President Piñera said on Twitter that he would travel to the south to monitor the search. Piñera also canceled his attendance of the swearing-in ceremony of Argentina’s new president. Also, on Twitter, he said “I just spoke to president-elect Alberto Fernández to inform him [of this]. He confirmed that he will soon pay an official visit to Chile.”

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