Missing Chile Plane Crew Sent Audio Warning Of Failure

Story ByAna LacasaSub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyCentral European News 

The Chilean authorities are investigating an audio message reportedly sent by one of the crew members of the missing military plane saying that there were electrical failures with the aircraft.

According to local newspaper Emol, the audio message was sent by one of the crew members of the Hercules C-130 plane which went missing in the Drake Passage and in it he said the aircraft was suffering “an electrical failure” and that the “itinerary should be followed until landing in the white continent”.

Picture Credit: CEN/@FACh_Chile

The Chilean Air Force have verified the existence of the audio message which was reportedly sent after takeoff.

The Commander-in-Chief of the force, Arturo Merino, who is in Punta Arenas, in the southern Chilean region of Magallanes and the Chilean Antarctic, said: “I do know the audio exists, I have not listened to it, but I do know it exists. And we are obviously going to give this audio to the general in charge of the investigation and the prosecutor Eugenio Campos”.

He added: “What I can say to you is that the pilot cannot take off if all the problems the plane had regarding maintenance, or whatever appear, are not solved. (…)The two pilots on board of the plane were very professional pilots and they had all the authorisation to leave the plane on the ground if there might be any failure.”

He said that “we are going to investigate it, nothing was going to be dismissed”.

Picture Credit: CEN/@FACh_Chile

Merino has said that he does not believe that any survivors will be found, adding “the remains found of the plane made it impossible that there are survivors. The families are being supported by the institution in different areas.”

On Wednesday, the Chilean ship Antarctic Endeavour found debris 30 kilometres south of where the Hercules C-130 plane last made radio contact in the Drake Passage. The authorities are working to confirm if the sponge debris seen in the images belong to the inside of the petrol tanks of the wings of the plane.

Human remains were also found and Jose Fernandez, the Intendant of the Chilean region of Magallanes told local media: “In the afternoon, the Air Force informed us of some news that shocked us; the finding of bodies in the Drake Passage and also part of the fuselage belonging to the missing plane.”

Around 15 planes and five boats from Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and the United States are participating in the search and rescue operation.

Picture Credit: CEN/@FACh_Chile

Local media report that there are three hypotheses for the cause of the crash: a blackout of the electrical and communication circuits of the plane, a failure in the anchor of the wing (…) or a human factor, which could have caused an explosion as there were oxygen tanks being carried in the plane to be used at the base.

The investigation is ongoing.

The Hercules C-130 took off on Monday from Chabunco and was going to the Antarctic Chilean base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva to provide logistic support for Chilean facilities in the Antarctic.

In the middle of the trip, after travelling 700 kilometres and with 500 kilometres left to fly, the plane lost radio contact with operators.

Of the 38 passengers on board, 17 were members of the crew and 21 were passengers. Fifteen were members of the FACH, three were members of the Chilean Army and three civilians; one student at the University of Magallanes travelling to the Antarctic to do research and two workers from a private engineering company”.

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Ana Lacasa

I am a senior writer and journalist and editor of the Spanish desk for the Central European News agency.

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