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Hope fades for military avion going to Antarctica

Relatives of passengers of a missing military plane comfort each other as they arrive at the Cerrillos airbase in Santiago, Chile, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019.

Hopes for rescue faded Tuesday after a Chilean air force transport plane with 38 people aboard vanished en route to Antarctica without sending an emergency signal.

Defense Minister Alberto Espina said the plane departed the southern city of Punta Arenas on Monday evening. Contact was lost about 80 minutes later, he said.

“The chances are difficult, but I think it would be profoundly wrong to lose heart at this moment,” Espina said Tuesday. “We are doing everything humanly possible.”

Families of the plane’s passengers and crew hugged and wept as they gathered at Cerrillos airbase in Santiago.

The air force said the plane, a U.S.-built C-130 Hercules, was about 450 miles into its 770-mile journey when it disappeared. The area, known as the Drake Passage, is an icy and often surly body of water near where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. Authorities said the flight began in good weather.

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