Chile finds wreckage of plane that crashed en route to Antarctica


Families of the 38 people aboard the ill-fated flight travelled Wednesday to Punta Arenas.

The Chilean air force has said that parts of a plane that crashed en route to Antarctica with 38 people aboard were found in the water near the last known position of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.

Bits of foam from the plane’s interior were encountered by the crew of Chilean-flagged fishing vessel Antarctic Endeavour in an area 30km (19mi) south of the location of the C-130 before contact was lost, the air force said in a statement on Wednesday.

Other pieces of wreckage were spotted by a Brazilian naval vessel assisting in the search for the C-130, the Almirante Maximiliano, in waters roughly 518km (200 nautical miles) from Ushuaia, Argentina, Efe news reported.

The Maximiliano remains in the area collecting debris in coordination with Chilean authorities, Brazil’s defence ministry said.

The aircraft took off at 4.55 pm Monday from Chabunco airbase in Punta Arenas and what was supposed to be a three-hour-long flight to Chile’s Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva base in Antarctica.

The Hercules was carrying 38 people – 17 crew and 21 passengers, including three civilians.

Air force flight controllers lost contact with the US-made aircraft at 6.13 pm Monday, when it was about 500km (311mi) from its destination.

“It is believed the aircraft has crashed, because it exceeded its flight range in relation to its fuel load,” the air force chief of operations, Gen. Francisco Torres, said Tuesday at a press conference.

The four-engine turboprop would have exhausted its fuel by 12.40 am Tuesday, he said.

The 21 passengers were travelling to the Frei Montalva base to inspect the fuel pipeline supplying the installation and to carry out anti-corrosion treatment of the conduit and other facilities.

It will take the better part of a day to transport the recovered wreckage from Punto Arenas to Santiago for examination and testing, Brig. Gen. Eduardo Mosqueira said Wednesday.

The plane went missing over the Drake Passage, the turbulent stretch of water that separates the southern tip of South America from Antarctica.

Families of the people aboard the ill-fated flight travelled Wednesday to Punta Arenas.

This week’s crash was Chile’s worst aviation accident since 2011, when a plane carrying relief supplies to the Juan Fernandez Islands went down with 21 people.

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