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Chilean Army Chief Says Soldiers Still Missing After Blizzard Probably Dead

21 May 2005

A top Chilean military official says he believes the soldiers still missing after a blizzard in the Andes are dead.

Army chief General Emilio Cheyre joined rescuers Saturday in the search for some 30 soldiers still missing around the Antuco volcano in southern Chile. Fourteen bodies have already been recovered.

The soldiers, mostly young recruits, were part of hundreds of troops taking part in a training exercise Wednesday, when the blizzard hit.

General Cheyre blamed officers for continuing the march despite the severe conditions. He dismissed several officers for the incident. President Ricardo Lagos declared three days of national mourning.

Relatives of the missing soldiers have gathered at the army regiment's base in the southern city of Los Angeles to await word on their loved ones.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.

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