US and Brazil Join Search for Chilean Plane Lost Near Antarctica

Both the United States and Brazil have deployed aircraft to assist in the search for a Chilean Air Force plane that disappeared near Antarctica on Monday, December 9, with 38 passengers and crew on board.

The C-130 Hercules plane went missing on Monday after departing from Punta Arenas for Base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva in Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands with 17 crew and 21 passengers aboard, Chilean officials said. Seven hours after losing contact, the Chilean Air Force declared the plane to be damaged and said a search for survivors was underway.

The search area comprised 175,000 square kilometers (about 67,500 square miles) in the Drake Passage, the body of water between Cape Horn, on South America’s southern tip, and the South Shetland Islands, the Chilean Air Force said.

An official passenger list showed that 32 members of the Chilean Air Force, three members of the army, one university student, and two others were on the flight.

Relatives of passengers landed at Chabunco Air Base in Punta Arenas, where search efforts were being coordinated, on Wednesday, the Chilean Air Force said. This footage shows them boarding a plane and landing at Punta Arenas.

It also shows aircraft already deployed by Chilean forces in the search, including Black Hawk helicopters and F-16s, at Chabunco.

US Southern Command on Wednesday said it had directed the US Navy to deploy a P-8A Poseidon aircraft and its 20-person crew to Punta Arenas. The same day, the Brazilian Air Force said it had sent a P-3 Orion maritime surveillance plane to Chile to support the search. Credit: Chilean Air Force via Storyful