Chilean authorities are conducting a search and rescue operation after a Chilean Air Force plane went missing Monday night on its way to Antarctica.
The C-130 Hercules aircraft had been flying from the Chilean capital of Santiago to the country’s Antarctic base, the Air Force said in a statement. The four-engine aircraft lost radio contact around 6 p.m. local time near the Drake Passage, the body of water between the tip of South America and Antarctica.
There were 17 crew members and 21 other passengers on board, who were on their way to perform “logistical support tasks” such as repairing the floating oil pipeline that provides fuel for the base, said the Chilean Air Force.
In addition to crew members, the plane was also carrying personnel from the armed forces, an engineering firm, and the University of Magallanes.
After the plane lost contact, the Air Force declared a state of alert and mobilized a search and rescue team, activating Air Force resources in Santiago and the Magallanes region in southern Chile. President Sebastian Pinera tweeted on Tuesday that he was conferring with security officials in Cerrillos to monitor the rescue operation.
Air and maritime authorities are still searching for survivors in the area of the plane’s last known location and informing the families of the passengers on board, the Air Force said.