Brazilian football club in air crash
A plane carrying 81 people, including a top Brazilian football team, has crashed on its approach to the city of Medellin in Colombia. The plane was carrying 72 passengers and 9 crew members.
Colombia’s civil aviation body says only six people survived the crash, that occurred on a mountainside.
The plane was a chartered aircraft operated by charter airline Lamia, originally from Venezuela but based in Bolivia. It was flying from Brazil bound for Medellin, Colombia, after a stopover in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
The plane crashed at 22:15 local time on Monday (03:15 GMT on Tuesday) after the pilot reported an electrical fault. The plane was carrying team members of the Chapecoense football team. Only 3 footballers have survived the crash. 75 people are confirmed dead.
The club’s main goalkeeper, Marcos Padilha aka Danilo, was pulled alive from the wreckage but later died in hospital.
The team had been due to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana, against Medellin team Atletico Nacional. The first leg of the final of the cup, South America’s second most important club competition, was scheduled for Wednesday but has now been suspended.
Organisers say Atletico Nacional has asked for Chapecoense to be awarded the cup. The match was seen as the biggest in the history of the relatively small club, which entered Brazil’s top division for the first time in 2014.
Brazilian President Michel Temer announced three days of national mourning, and top Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona held a minute’s silence at the beginning of their practice sessions.
Shortly before boarding in Sao Paulo, Chapecoense manager Cadu Gaucho, 36, appeared in a video posted on the team’s Facebook site [in Portuguese] describing the trip to Medellin as “the club’s most important to date”.
Playing in the final of the Copa Sudamericana was to be the highlight of a glorious season for the team from the small city of Santa Catarina, which has fewer than 200,000 inhabitants.
Founded in 1973, the team has only been playing in Brazil’s Serie A since 2014 but is currently ranked ninth ahead of much more famous and established teams such as Sao Paulo, Fluminense and Cruzeiro.
Last week, it became the first Brazilian team in three years to make it to the final of the Copa Sudamericana after beating Argentine side San Lorenzo.
One of the founders of the club, Alvadir Pelisser, told BBC Brasil the tragedy had put an “end to everyone’s dream”.
Medellin’s Mayor Federico Gutierrez described it as “a tragedy of huge proportions”.