A Chilean air force plane with 21 people aboard, including a popular television host, has crashed into the ocean near the Juan Fernandez islands off the country’s Pacific coast.
The plane tried twice to land at the airport on one of the islands but strong gusts buffeted the aircraft and it later was lost from sight, said Felipe Paredes, a councillor who was in the airport’s control tower at the time.
Rescuers in boats were searching for the plane, but the mayor of Juan Fernandez, Leopoldo Gonzalez, said some luggage had been found in the water and it was clear the plane had crashed. ”We assume that there was an accident and that there are no survivors,” he said.
The President, Sebastian Pinera, expressed sadness. ”This is a blow to our country. In these times of anguish and uncertainty is when unity is most needed.”
Authorities said the TV host, 44-year-old Felipe Camiroaga had been flying to the islands to film a program on reconstruction since the 8.8-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that wiped out the main town in February last year.
The archipelago, about 830 kilometres west of Chile, is known for possibly having inspired the novel Robinson Crusoe.
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