— The Associated Press (@AP) November 29, 2016
A chartered aircraft with 81 people on board, including a Brazilian first division soccer team heading to Colombia for a regional tournament final, has crashed on its way to Medellin’s international airport.
Aviation authorities said there are reports of at least five survivors, with a local mayor confirming at least three passengers were found alive. The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline named LaMia, declared an emergency at 10 p.m. Monday (03:00 GMT) because of an electrical failure.
“It’s a tragedy of huge proportions,” Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez told Blu Radio on his way to the site in a mountainous area outside the city where aircraft crashed.
The aircraft, which made a stop in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the first division Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil. The team was scheduled to play Wednesday in the first of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.
Last picture of Brazilian team – Chapecoense, who were heading to Colombia before their plane crashed. A shocking day for football. RIP. ??? pic.twitter.com/OMqbp8OSHq
— Premier League (@EPLBible) November 29, 2016
South America’s soccer federation extended its condolences to the entire Chapecoense community and said its president, Luis Dominguez, was on his way to Medellin. All soccer activities were suspended until further notice, the organization said in a statement.
Authorities and rescuers were immediately activated but an air force helicopter had to turn back because of low visibility. They urged journalists to stay away from the hard-to-access zone and stay off the roads to facilitate the entry of ambulances and rescuers. The area has been hit by heavy rains in recent days.
The plane was carrying 72 passengers and nine crew members, aviation authorities said in a statement. Local radio said the same aircraft transported Argentina’s national squad for a match earlier this month in Brazil, and previously had transported Venezuela’s national team.
The team, from the small city of Chapeco, was in the middle of a fairy tale season. It joined Brazil’s first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it last week to the Copa Sudamericana finals — the equivalent of the UEFA Europa League tournament — after defeating Argentina’s San Lorenzo squad.
— Gerald Cheruiyot (@Cheruiyot931) November 29, 2016
My prayers and thoughts are with the families of the 76 people killed in the plane crash in Colombia, such heartbreaking news!??
— Vishakha Shekhawat (@V_Shekhawat9) November 29, 2016