A Chilean military aircraft carrying 38 passengers has gone missing during a flight to Antarctica. The flight, C-130 Hercules, went missing after taking off from the southern city of Punta Arenas and is said to have vanished over Drake's passage. The initial announcement said that the radio contact with the flight was lost in the evening around 6.13 PM local time. The passengers include three civilians.
The weather conditions were said to be good for carrying out the mission and the plane was supposed to refuel in Santiago, which is 3,000km from Punta Arenas. The Chilean air force said in a statement on early Tuesday morning that the flight had lost contact for around seven hours and would have run out of fuel by 12.40 am local time.
Search operation underway
The President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, tweeted that he was with the defence minister and other ministers at the air force headquarters, monitoring the developments. The air force has been searching the region where the aircraft carrying 21 passengers and 17 crew members went missing. The air force also said that there are searches in the waters are being conducted as well.
Dangerous Drake's passage
The passage where the flight went missing is notorious for harsh weather conditions. But the air force confirmed that the weather on Monday was safe for the mission to Antarctica. Rough seas are very common in this passage. Statements by the air force said that the flight was 450 miles into its 770-mile journey when it lost contact, which they predict that would place the flight inside the passage.
According to statements given by General Eduardo Mosqueira of the air force, the plane did not give any distress call. He also said that the captain had extensive experience and most likely landed the plane because it ran out of fuel.