Chilean plane 'disappears' en route to Antarctica with 38 on board

The C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft was carrying 17 crew members and 21 passengers

epa06137438 Polish turboprop military transport aircraft Lockheed C-130 Hercules takes off for a test flight in the 41st Air Base School in Deblin, eastern Poland, 11 August 2017. Polish Army pilots rehearsal for the air parade, which will be part of the Polish Armed Forces DAY celebrations in Warsaw and for the International Air Show 2017 in Radom between 26 and 27 August.  EPA/TOMASZ KORYSZKO POLAND OUT
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A military plane with 38 on board has disappeared en route to Antarctica, Chile's air force said on Tuesday.

The C-130 Hercules took off from Punta Arenas in the south of the country at 4.55pm on Monday (11.55pm Abu Dhabi time), bound for the President Eduardo Frei Antarctic Base, and operators lost contact five minutes later.

Among the missing are 17 crew members and 21 passengers, three of which are civilians, who were travelling to provide logistical support.

Chile's air force said a search and rescue operation is under way to recover the plane and those missing.

Gen Eduardo Mosqueira from the Air Force told local media that the plane did not activate any distress signal and that the plane may have been forced to land after running out of fuel.

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said in a tweet that he was "dismayed" by the disappearance, and was monitoring the situation from the capital, Santiago.

The plane's passengers were being sent to carry out logistical support tasks, inspect the base's floating fuel supply pipeline, and carry out anti-corrosive treatment of the facility.

Chile controls more than 1.2 million square kilometres 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.