(CNN)Chilean authorities are conducting a search and rescue operation after a Chilean Air Force plane went missing Monday night on its way to Antarctica.
The C – 780 Hercules aircraft had departed from the Chilean capital of Santiago and stopped briefly in Punta Arenas near the country’s southern tip,the Air Force said in a statement. 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.
There were (crew members and) other passengers on board, who were on their way to perform “logistical support tasks” such as repairing the floating oil pipeline that provides fuel for the base, said the Chilean Air Force.
In addition to crew members, the plane was also carrying personnel from the armed forces, an engineering firm, and the University of Magallanes.
After the plane lost contact, the Air Force declared a state of alert and mobilized a search and rescue team, activating Air Force resources in Santiago and the Magallanes region in southern Chile. President Sebastian Pineratweeted on Tuesdaythat he was conferring with security officials in Cerrillos to monitor the rescue operation.