Rescue hopes vanished on Tuesday after a 38-person Chilean air force airliner disappeared on the way to Antarctica without sending an emergency signal.
Defense Minister Alberto Espina said the plane departed from the southern city of Punta Arenas on Monday night. Contact was lost about 80 minutes later, he said.
"The odds are tough but I think it would be deeply wrong to get discouraged right now," Espina said on Tuesday. "We are doing everything humanly possible."
The families of the plane's passengers and crew hugged and wept as they gathered at the Cerrillos air base in Santiago.
The Air Force said the plane, a US-built C-130 Hercules, was about 800 kilometers away and disappeared. The area, known as Drake Passage, is a body of cold and generally coarse water near where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet. Authorities said, however, that the flight started in good weather.
Four ships and 10 planes from Chile led the search, which also attracted planes and ships from Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera assured his nation that "with the help of many" the search would continue.
"I just spoke to President Jair Bolsonaro, who offered us all the help from Brazil in the search," Piñera said on Twitter.
Piñera also said he had canceled plans to attend Bolsonaro's inauguration on Tuesday.
The 38 on board included 17 crew members and 21 passengers, including three civilians. The staff would check a floating fuel supply line and other equipment at the Chilean Antarctic base.
"Antarctica is different," said General Eduardo Mosqueira of the Fourth Air Brigade. "It's hard to fly because of changing conditions."
Contribution: Associated Press
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