Pope Francis is praying for the Chilean military plane bound for Antarctica that went missing Monday with 38 passengers on board.
On Monday, a Chilean Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane took off from Punta Arenas near the tip of Chile’s southernmost Patagonia region. Their mission was to provide logistical support for the country’s base on King George island, which has one of the four Catholic churches on the Antarctic continent. On board were 17 crew members and 21 passengers, including three civilians.
The Chilean Air Force said the plane had to have crashed by now, as it would have run out of gas on Tuesday. It was equipped with four safety rafts for an emergency water landing. Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and the United States are helping Chile in the search and rescue efforts, but visibility is low.
In a telegram sent to the military Ordinary of Chile, Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamale, Pope Francis said he is “closely following the news from this beloved country of the loss of contact with the air force aircraft bound for Antarctica.”
Pope Francis also said he is praying for those aboard and those involved in the mission to find he plane, imparting a papal blessing on them and expressing his closeness to all of Chile.
“He assures his spiritual closeness to the Chilean people and to all the families, and he 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. As a pledge of this he imparts his apostolic blessing.”
Read the full message of Pope Francis here.