Chile Holds Prayer Vigils for Victims of Air Tragedy

The air tragedy over Juan Fernández Island archipelago on Friday, September 2, has deeply affected the Chilean nation.

A large group of Chilean people spontaneously established a vigil for the 21 passengers who lost their lives, which lasted from Friday evening until Saturday morning outside the Televisión Nacional de Chile (TVN) studios in Santiago.

The mourners lit candles and said prayers throughout the night after the station had broadcast that five members of TVN staff, including Felipe Camiroaga, were among the passengers in the plane crash.

Camiroaga, one of the most popular personalities in Chilean Television, was best-known for appearing in Television Nacional’s Good Morning Everyone show, and was flying to the island to film a program.

"We are extremely upset," said TVN executive director Mauro Valdes, according to CBC News.

Pope Benedict XVI also expressed his condolences to the victims in a letter sent to Ricardo Ezzati, Archbishop of Santiago.

“Benedict XVI, who felt deep sorrow at the news of the Chilean Air Force Plane accident in Juan Fernandez Island that caused many deaths, is offering warm words of comfort.”

The Archbishop of Santiago has held a mass for the victims and has urged Chileans to not lose hope of finding any survivors.

On Saturday, Chileans officials informed they had begun recovering bodies from the crash of the military airplane that went down in the Pacific Ocean.

Searchers and fishermen have recovered the bodies of two women and two men, officials said according to the Washington Post, however the bodies have not yet been identified. It was also reported that pieces of the crashed CASA 212 plane have been found.

According to a local council member who was in the airport’s control tower, Felipe Paredes, the plane tried to land on the island but strong wind gusts disrupted the plane’s approach.

The air force plane took off from Santiago around 2p.m. local time and four hours later lost contact with air control.

Chile’s national air force, FACh, announced a mass to be held for the 21 missing passengers of the CASA C-212 airplane this Saturday at 7p.m. local time.