The Chilean air force lost radio contact with a C-130 Hercules transport plane on its way to the country’s base in Antarctica, on December 9, 2019. It was carrying 38 people. The flight was declared crashed and a large rescue operation is ongoing.

The communication department of the Fuerza Aérea de Chile (FACh) reported that the C-130 Hercules tactical code 990 of the Aviation Group Nº10 took off from Chabunco airbase in Punta Arena, the southernmost point of the American continent. It was heading to Teniente Rodolfo Marsh Martin Airport (TNM) on King George Island, part of Chile's commune in Antarctica.

17 crew members and 21 passengers were on board, including 15 FACh servicemen, three soldiers from the Chilean Army, two civilians working for the construction company Inproser, and an official from the University of Magallanes. The flight was carrying logistical support and transferred personnel for the revision of the floating pipeline supplying Base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva, the main Antarctic base of Chile, according to BioBioChile.

When radio contact was lost, the plane was more than one hour into its flight, over the Drake Passage, feared by sailors for its strong winds and high waves. No distress signal was sent. The Air Force was put on high alert and a search and rescue operation involving several aircraft of the FACh and ships of the Chilean Navy was launched.

Seven hours after the incident, the FACh declared the flight as crashed, as it would have reached the end of its fuel reserves. The search for potential survivors, which now involves foreign assets and a plane from the airline Aerovías DAP, continues.