Chile starts identifying remains of plane crash victims

Remains of people killed in Monday's crash brought to an airbase for DNA identification.

    Chile starts identifying remains of plane crash victims
    Relatives of people who died in the Chilean air force's C-130 Hercules cargo plane crash [Joel Estay/AFP]

    The remains of 38 people killed in a military plane crash have been flown to a military base in Chile for identification.

    "A C-130 plane [just like the one that went down on Monday] arrived at the Chabunco airbase, with the first findings of human remains and personal items .. these were already delivered to the Public Ministry ... to confirm the identity of the people that went missing," the Chilean air force said in a tweet on Friday. 

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    On Friday, a total of 39 relatives of 11 crash victims flew from the capital Santiago to Punta Arenas, where the base is located, to provide DNA samples.

    Thirty-eight people - 21 passengers and 17 crew - were on the plane that crashed on Monday, en route to a base in far-southern Chile on a regular maintenance flight for an Antarctic base.

    Radio contact was lost 70 minutes later.

    After midnight, the air force declared the plane a loss, but it was not until Wednesday that a plane scanning the seas first spotted floating debris believed to be from the plane.

    Authorities say they have not ruled out anything as to the cause of the crash, while they also called for national mourning on Saturday and Sunday. 

    (Translation: The Government of Chile decrees national mourning for Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 on the occasion of the C-130 #FACh plane crash. This unfortunate event not only mourns affected families but our entire institution and the next two days the flag will be raised at half-mast. - Chile air force) 

    According to reports, the plane made no emergency signal prior to its disappearance, indicating the circumstances of the accident were likely abrupt.

    The air force has said the plane's maintenance record was in order.

    It also said it will investigate a WhatsApp audio message sent by a passenger to relatives that allegedly said the plane was having electrical problems.

    The plane was flying over the Drake Passage, the sea between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica, which is infamous for rapidly-changing and often severe weather.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies