A military plane with 38 people on board has gone missing while en route to the country’s base in Antarctica since Monday evening, Chile’s air force said in a statement.
The C-130 Hercules, a transport plane, lost radio contact with Chile’s air force after over an hour at 18:00 (21:00 GMT) from its take-off from Punta Arenas at 16:55 local time (19:55 GMT).
According to the statement, 17 crew members and 21 passengers, including three civilians were on board. They were flying to provide logistical support.
A search and rescue operation has been launched to trace the missing plane, Chile’s air force said in the statement.
Air Force General Eduardo Mosqueira told local media that the plane did not activate any distress signal while flying to Chile’s Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva base, on Antarctica’s King George Island.
“The pilot might have made an emergency landing after running out of fuel as no emergency signal had been activated,” he said.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera tweeted that he was ‘dismayed’ by the news and was getting updates about the situation.
The pilot is said to have had extensive experience and was scheduled to return on Monday.