Arturo Merino said based on the remains, it was "practically impossible" that anyone survived, the Associated Press reported. Officials lost contact with the plane about 90 minutes after takeoff.
The Chilean Air Force said on Thursday it has recovered human remains in the search for an Antarctica-bound plane that crashed earlier this week with 38 people on board. No emergency signals was made.
Officials said the debris was located in a 30 square kilometer area in the Drake Passage, where some 23 aircraft and 14 ships have been concentrating the search effort.
An worldwide team of searchers continued the hunt, while officials on shore said they would use DNA analysis to identify the crash victims.
"I would like to express our condolences, support and the pain we are feeling for the human drama that the family of those who were on board are now experiencing", said Espina in Punta Arenas.
Defence Minister Alberto Espina also said at a news conference that they have found human remains from some of the 38 passengers who were aboard when the plane took off from southernmost Chile.
"Our duty is to, first of all, find all the remains and everything we can on the plane". "A lot of times that happens in a deep-water recovery".
But recovering the bulk of the plane from the ocean's bottom - more than 2 miles underwater - could be very hard.
Just three of the passengers were civilians, including Ignacio Parada, 24, who was a stand-out student of civil engineering in his past year at the University of Magallanes.
A Brazilian navy vessel has also recovered wreckage, some 280 nautical miles from the far southern Argentinian port of Ushuaia, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter.
Story with information from the Associated Press.