Video>> Chilean air force plane crashes into ocean with 21 aboard
|This is a reproduction of an undated image of Chilean TV presenter and actor Felipe Camiroaga. A plane of the Chilean Air Force with 21 people onboard crashed on Sept. 3, 2011 into the ocean close to the Juan Fernandez islands off Chile's Pacific coast. Camiroaga is one of the passengers onboard. (Xinhua/Jorge Villegas)
SANTIAGO, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- At least three people were killed Friday when a Chilean air force plane crashed, Chile's Ministry of Defense confirmed in a statement.
Defense Minister Andres Allamand said on national television that the crash occurred in the late afternoon near the remote Juan Fernandez archipelago, located some 700 km off the Pacific coast.
"The scenario which we are facing is particularly adverse," the minister said before heading for an emergency meeting with President Sebastian Pinera. He was referring to the unpredictable weather and geographical conditions which might hamper search and rescue efforts.
Allamand said the Defense Ministry had sent an aircraft and a frigate equipped with a specialized rescue helicopter to the crash site to help search for survivors.
Between 18 and 21 passengers were traveling aboard the CASA 212 military aircraft, including a crew from the TV channel TVN which wanted to cover the archipelago's rebuilding efforts after the massive earthquake that hit Chile in February 2010, TVN reported.
Juan Fernandez's Mayor Leopoldo Gonzalez told local media that aviation authorities lost communication with the plane as it approached the islands.
"It's regrettable," Gonzalez said on national television.