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Chile says air force plane missing off Juan Fernandez

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A Chilean air force plane disappeared near the Juan Fernandez islands off Chile's Pacific coast on Friday, the government said, while local media reported that 21 people were aboard.

Defense Minister Andres Allamand said the CASA 212 military plane had tried twice to land unsuccessfully before it went missing in the late afternoon. He said nightfall was hampering search efforts, but did not confirm reports that remains of the plane had been found.

The Juan Fernandez islands lie around 420 miles off Chile's coast.

"As it was approaching the island, it was declared missing after radio contact was lost," Allamand said, adding air and sea search teams were heading to the area to search the area.

The mayor of the islands, Leopoldo Gonzalez, told state television TVN that remains including passengers' belongings, had been found in the sea about a kilometer (0.6 mile) away from the islands' landing strip.

TVN said a crew of five of its staff were among the passengers, including local TV presenter Felipe Camiroaga.

(Reporting by Moises Avila, Antonio de la Jara, Simon Gardner and Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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