Chile air crash: 'All 21 on board died instantly'

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Media captionChileans are holding a vigil for those lost in the crash

All 21 people on board an aircraft that crashed in the Pacific Ocean on Friday must have died instantly, Chile's defence minister has said.

So far only four bodies have been recovered from the area where the air force plane crashed.

Those on board included one of Chile's leading TV personalities, Felipe Camiroaga, and the defence minister's own brother-in-law, Felipe Cubillos.

The plane was lost after trying to land in poor weather.

The Casa-212 turboprop plane twice tried to land at the airport on the Juan Fernandez islands in windy conditions on Friday afternoon.

None of the bodies found were immediately identified.

In another development, the reburial of former President Salvador Allende, planned for Sunday, was postponed due to the crash.

The remains of Allende, who died during the 1973 coup, were exhumed in May in a bid to determine whether he had killed himself or was murdered. Experts concluded he had committed suicide.

Earthquake assignment

Mr Camiroaga had been flying to the islands with a five-strong crew from Chile's national TV programme Buenos Dias a Todos - Good Morning Everyone.

They had been due to film a piece on reconstruction projects after the magnitude-8.8 earthquake and tsunami which hit Chile and devastated the islands in February 2010.

The Defence Minister, Andres Allamand, said everyone would have died instantly when the crash happened.

"Based on observations and the search we carried out with the Air Force commander, we have reached the conclusion that the impact was such that it should have resulted in the instantaneous death of all of those who were aboard the aircraft," he told a news conference.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said that his thoughts were with the families of those on board the plane, which had taken off from the capital Santiago at 14:00 (17:00 GMT) on Friday and lost contact with air traffic control some four hours later.

"I empathise with the anguish and uncertainty the relatives the 21 passengers aboard the plane, which is presumed to have gone down, are living through at this moment," Mr Pinera said.

"This is a very hard blow for our country."

Chileans gathered at Chilean national TV headquarters, with dozens of people lighting candles and praying outside the gates.

As well as co-hosting Buenos Dias a Todos, Mr Camiroaga, 44, fronted the late-night talk show Animal Nocturno (Nocturnal Animal).

Another person on board was the businessman and philanthropist Felipe Cubillos - Mr Allamand's brother-in-law - who had also been working on post-earthquake reconstruction with the group Desafio Levantemos Chile.

The Juan Fernandez islands lie around 420 miles (670 km) off Chile's coast, and are thought to have inspired the setting for Daniel Defoe's classic shipwreck novel Robinson Crusoe.

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