A military plane with 38 people on board disappeared on Monday after taking off from the south of the country for a base in Antarctica, according to Chilean Air Force.
The Air Force said in a statement, “A C-130 Hercules aircraft took off at 16:55 (19:55 GMT) from the city of Punta Arenas to the President Eduardo Frei Antarctic Base… 38 people are travelling”.
The aircraft was en route from the southern city of Punta Arenas to Antarctica with 17 crew members and 21 passengers, the statement further added.
Taking to Twitter, President Sebastián Piñera said that he was with his defense and interior ministers at the air force headquarters monitoring developments.
Vamos con ministro @gblumel rumbo a Cerrillos.Consternados con desaparición de avión Hércules de la @FACh_Chile que viajaba con 38 pasajeros rumbo a la Antártica desde Punta Arenas.Desde ahí,junto a Ministro @mindefchile monitorearemos búsqueda y despliegue de equipos de rescate
— Sebastian Piñera (@sebastianpinera) December 10, 2019
Late on Monday, the air force further said that the weather was good at the time when contact was lost.
Gen. Eduardo Mosqueira of the Fourth Air Brigade told local media that a search was underway and a ship was in the 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, Mosqueira added.
He said that the plane had been scheduled to return on Monday night.
On Friday, thousands of demonstrators gathered onto the street of capital Santiago to pressurize President Sebastian Pinera into taking “serious steps” to reduce inequality in the country battling a social upheaval for the last 50 days.