A plane of Chile Air Force, having 21 people aboard, including a popular local television host, crashed in the Juan Fernandez Islands off the country’s Pacific coast, authorities said.
Leopoldo Gonzalez, Juan Fernandez’s mayor said the plane tried without success to land at the islands’ airport, which is 515 miles from Chile’s coast.
“The accident must be accepted as a fact,” Gonzalez said in an interview with Television Nacional de Chile.
Rescuers were searching for the wreckage of the plane but so far they have only found some equipment, the mayor said.
Andres Allamand, defence minister said searchers faced “particularly adverse” conditions, adding that the plane’s status was still listed as missing.
Felipe Camiroaga, one of Chile’s most popular television presenters, was on the flight, Mayor Gonzalez said.
Felipe Camiroaga, 44, worked for the state TV channel’s Good Morning Everyone programme, and was travelling to the islands for a story on the reconstruction following the 27 February magnitude-8.8 earthquake and tsunami that wiped out its main town.
Also on board was businessman Felipe Cubillos, who had been working on post-earthquake reconstruction efforts.
The Chilean air force plane took off from the capital, Santiago, at 2:00 p.m. local time and lost contact with air control almost four hours later, according to a statement from aviation authorities.