A Chilean military plane carrying 38 people aboard on a flight to the country’s base in Antarctica has disappeared.
Chile’s Air Force confirmed that it lost radio communication with the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft shortly after it took off from Punta Arenas on Monday evening.
Those missing include 17 crew and 21 passengers. They were travelling to provide logistical support to a military base on Antarctica’s King George Island.
An air force statement said the plane was about 450 miles into its 770-mile journey when contact was lost, placing it within the Drake Passage.
The Drake Passage is a body of water connecting the South Atlantic and South Pacific Oceans and is known for treacherous weather conditions. However, Chile’s Air Force said local weather was good at the time of the plane’s disappearance.
President Sebastián Piñera said in a tweet that he was “dismayed” by the loss, and was monitoring the situation from the capital, Santiago.
The military has declared an alert and activated search and rescue operation with aircraft and Chilean Navy vessels.