A small twin-engine plane with eight people on board vanished Thursday over southern Chile after sending a distress signal, prompting a military search and rescue mission, authorities said.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with the Piper Navajo, operated by local company Aerohein, after it signalled it was having problems over water on the approach to the tourist island of Chiloe, the defense ministry said.
The plane had taken off from Mellinka for a flight that should not have taken more than 20 minutes. The aircraft was believed to be carrying seven passengers and the pilot, the ministry said in a statement.
The area is located about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) south of the capital Santiago. Chile's navy and air force were conducting the search mission.
Local media cited witnesses as saying they saw an aircraft crash into the water, but there was no confirmation of those reports. Weather conditions in the area at the time of the crash were difficult.
Â© 2012 AFP
Date: Mar 1, 2012