Pope Francis prays for Chile after plane disappears near Antarctica

Vatican City, Dec 11, 2019 / 09:57 am (CNA).- Pope Francis is closely following the news of the Chilean military plane bound for Antarctica that went missing with 38 people aboard, the Vatican Secretary of State said Wednesday.

The pope “prays to the Lord to give hope in this moment of uncertainty and to sustain the search work and all those who collaborate in it,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in a Dec. 11 telegram.

The military transport plane has been missing since the evening of Dec. 9, when radio contact was lost with the C-130, en route to a Chilean military base off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula for a maintenance mission.

The Chilean air force has stated that plane must have crashed, as the aircraft would have run out of gas by Dec. 10. The plane was equipped with four safety rafts for an emergency water landing, according to the AP.

Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and the United States contributed search apparatus to the Chilean search crew looking for any sign of the plane over the Drake Passage between Chile and Antarctica, but visibility has remained low.

The plane was carrying 17 crew members and 21 passengers.

Pope Francis “assures his spiritual closeness to the Chilean people and to all the families,” Parolin said in the telegram sent to Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamales of the Military Ordinariate of Chile.

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