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Chilean military plane disappears with 38 onboard (Lead)

Tuesday - December 10, 2019 12:54 pm , Category : WORLD
Santiago, Dec 10 (IANS) A Chilean military aircraft enroute to Antarctica with 38 people onboard, has disappeared off the radar, the country's Air Force confirmed in a statement.
The Hercules C130 aircraft took off on Monday from the Chabunco Air Base in Punta Arenas at 4.55 p.m. and lost radio contact at 6.13 p.m., Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.
The statement said that it was heading to the President Eduardo Frei Montalva Air Base in Antarctica, adding that people onboard comprised 17 crew members and 21 passengers.
The statement further said that the plane was around 450 miles into its 770-mile journey when contact was lost, placing it within the Drake Passage, reports the BBC.
The Drake Passage is a body of water connecting the South Atlantic and South Pacific Oceans, and is known for treacherous weather conditions.
But the Air Force said that local weather was good at the time of the plane's disappearance.
Air Force General Eduardo Mosqueira told local media that the plane also did not activate any distress signal.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said that he was "dismayed" by the loss, and was monitoring the situation from the capital, Santiago.
Chile controls over 1.2 million sq.km of Antarctic territory, bordering land claimed by the UK and Argentina.
Within this territory it operates nine bases - the most of any country in the world.

--IANS ksk/