Chile Air Force Plane With 38 Onboard Heading to Antarctica Missing in Notorious Drake’s Passage

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A C-130 Chile transport aircraft unloads cargo at Eduardo Frei Chilean base’s airstrip in Antarctica. Credit: Getty Images

Chile’s air force lost radio contact with a transport plane en-route to Antarctica carrying 38 people on Monday evening, and authorities indicated several hours later that they were not optimistic about the aircraft’s fate, reports the AP.

The C-130 Hercules was carrying 17 crew members and 21 passengers, including three civilians. The personnel were going to check on a floating fuel supply line and other equipment at the Chilean base.

In a statement early Tuesday, the air force said the plane had not been heard from in more than seven hours and likely would have run out of fuel around 12:40 am. The air force “continues the search in the sector where communication with the aircraft was lost, in order to rescue potential survivors,” the statement said.

Force 12 Drake Passage madness on the way home. Big spray. photo: Ode Siivonen
Force 12 Drake Passage madness on the way home. Big spray. Credit: Ode Siivonen

Infamous Drake’s Passage, where the plane was missing, is known for severe weather conditions, including freezing temperatures and ferocious storms. SnowBrains crossed Drake’s Passage twice by boat in November, while heading to and from the Antarctic on our annual ski expedition. However, the air force said that the weather was good when the plane began its flight, or the mission would not have been carried out.

Gen. Eduardo Mosqueira of the Fourth Air Brigade told local media that a search was underway and a ship was in the general area where the plane should have been when contact was lost. Mosqueira said the aircraft would have been about halfway to the Antarctic base when it lost contact. No emergency signals had been activated, he said.

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