All 38 passengers on board missing plane presumed dead, says government minister

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All 38 passengers on board the Chilean Air Force plane that went missing on its way to Antarctica are presumed dead, according to Chilean Defense Minister Alberto Espina.

CREDIT: Javier Torres/AFP via Getty Images

All 38 passengers on board the Chilean Air Force plane that went missing on its way to Antarctica are presumed dead, according to Chilean Defense Minister Alberto Espina. CREDIT: Javier Torres/AFP via Getty Images

(CNN) – All 38 passengers on board the Chilean Air Force plane that went missing Monday on its way to Antarctica are presumed dead, according to Chilean Defense Minister Alberto Espina.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Espina said 32 members of the Chilean Air Force, three from the Chilean Army, and three civilians, were on the C-130 Hercules plane.

“I would like to express our condolences, support and the pain we are feeling for the human drama that the family of those who were on board are currently experiencing,” said Espina in Punta Arenas.

“Our duty is to, first of all, find all the remains and everything we can on the plane. Secondly, to do everything humanly possible so that there is no doubt about what happened in this accident.”

During the same press conference, Air Force Commander in Chief General Arturo Merino Nunez confirmed that human remains had been found which “likely belonged” to those who were traveling on the aircraft. Forensic analysis would establish their identification, he said.

“The condition of the remains leads us to conclude that it is practically impossible that anyone survived this accident,” said Merino.

Chilean officials also confirmed some remains of the plane were found, including some of the wheels and some of the cloth interior wall coverings.

The C-130 Hercules aircraft had departed from the Chilean capital of Santiago and stopped briefly in Punta Arenas near the country’s southern tip, the Chilean Air Force said in a statement earlier this week.

The four-engine aircraft then continued toward the country’s Antarctic base before losing radio contact around 6 p.m. local time near the Drake Passage, the body of water between the tip of South America and Antarctica.

The last known position was about 390 nautical miles from Punta Arenas and 280 nautical miles from the Antarctic base, according to the Air Force.

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