Mystery audio message from plane that crashed ‘killing all 38 on board’

An audio message reportedly sent by a crew member of a disappeared plane is at the centre of an investigation into its whereabouts.

On Monday a Hercules C-130 took off from Chabunco in the south of Chile and flew towards the Antarctic Chilean base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva.

Just over halfway into the 745mile trip the plane lost contact with operators.

Now Chilean authorities are investigating an audio message sent by one of the crew members who said the aircraft was suffering "an electrical failure" and that the "itinerary should be followed until landing in the white continent".

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The Chilean Air Force have verified the existence of the audio message, which is thought to have been sent after takeoff.

The Commander-in-Chief of the force, Arturo Merino, said he does not believe any survivors will be found after debris was found 18 miles south of where the plane last made contact in an area called Drake Passage.

The Chilean ship Antarctic Endeavour found the debris, which authorities believe may be from the petrol tanks of the wings of the plane.

Human remains were also found.

Jose Fernandez, the Intendant of the Chilean region of Magallanes, told local media: "In the afternoon, the Air Force informed us of some news that shocked us; the finding of bodies in the Drake Passage and also part of the fuselage belonging to the missing plane."

Around 15 planes and five boats from Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and the United States are participating in the search and rescue operation.

Local media reports have speculated on the cause of the crash, with an electrical blackout, an anchor failure in the wing and an exploding oxygen tank raised as possibilities.

Of the 38 passengers on board, 17 were members of the crew and 21 were passengers.

One of the people on board was a student from the University of Magallanes who was travelling to the Antarctic to do research.

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