Chile finds human remains, military plane that disappeared on way to Antarctica: defense minister

Authorities in Chile searching for a military transport plane that vanished earlier this week while en route to Antarctica made a grim announcement Thursday, revealing they located the aircraft and human remains.

The C-130 Hercules was carrying 17 crew members and 21 passengers when it departed Monday from the city of Punta Arenas for a Chilean base on the world’s southernmost continent. Officials lost contact with the plane about 90 minutes after takeoff.

On Wednesday, officials said that “sponge” material was found floating about 19 miles from where the plane last made radio contact.

CHILEAN AIR FORCE: DEBRIS FOUND IN HUNT FOR MISSING MILITARY PLANE

Within several hours after the plane went missing, the Chilean Air Force declared the plane a loss, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that a plane scanning the seas first spotted floating debris believed to be from the plane.

Chile's Defense Minister Alberto Espina said human remains have been found from a military aircraft that disappeared on a flight to Antarctica.

Chile's Defense Minister Alberto Espina said human remains have been found from a military aircraft that disappeared on a flight to Antarctica. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

"Remains of human beings that are most likely the passengers have been found among several pieces of the plane," said Air Force Gen. Arturo Merino.

Defense Minister Alberto Espina said at a news conference that all 38 people aboard the plane are dead, adding that it was nearly impossible to expect that any survivors to be found.

CHILEAN MILITARY DECLARES PLANE LOST AS SEARCHERS SCOUR ANTARCTICA FOR ANSWERS

The pilots who were flying the aircraft were reportedly experienced flyers but likely faced extreme weather over a remote stretch of frigid sea between South America and the Antarctic known as Drake’s Passage.

Relatives of passengers of a missing military plane arrive in a Chilean military airplane to an airbase in Punta Arenas, Chile, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

Relatives of passengers of a missing military plane arrive in a Chilean military airplane to an airbase in Punta Arenas, Chile, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Chilean officials had scanned roughly 70,000 square miles to find its remnants.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

The region is mostly untouched, icy wilderness with ice sheets off of South America and depths of up to 11,500 feet.

Fox News' Morgan Phillips, Nick Givas, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.