A chartered plane carrying a first-division Brazilian soccer team to the biggest game in its history crashed in the northwestern Colombian mountains on Monday night, killing 76 of the 81 people on board.
According to reports, the plane took off from Bolivia and was flying over the small town of La Union at around 10 p.m. when the crew declared an emergency. The plane crashed at around 10:15 p.m. in a mountainous area about 22 miles from the airport.
While it was unclear what caused the crash, local media said the plane had reported an electrical fault shortly before it disappeared off radar screens. Six people initially survived the crash, but one of them died a short time later.
The 72 passengers included members of Chapecoense, a Brazilian soccer team that had risen in popularity to play in one of South America’s most prestigious tournaments. The top-league team was scheduled to face off against Atletico Nacional in the Copa Sudamerica finals on Wednesday in Medellin.
It was the first time the relatively unknown team had reached the final of a major South American tournament. On Tuesday, Atletico Nacional offered the championship to Chapecoense.
Among the five survivors was team defender Alan Ruschel, who was in stable condition after being pulled from the wreckage of the BAe 146 aircraft. Officials said two other players, a journalist, and flight attendant Ximena Suarez also survived and were taken to local hospitals.
Tributes poured in from soccer fans worldwide following the devastating crash, and Brazil declared three days of mourning. President Michel Temer said:
“I express my solidarity in this sad hour during which tragedy has beset dozens of Brazilian families. The government will do all it can to alleviate the pain of the friends and family of sport and national journalism.”
The South American soccer federation cancelled games until further notice.
Desolaci├â┬│n total en el vestuario de Chapecoense. Los jugadores que no hicieron el viaje, devastados. Qu├â┬⌐ jornada tan jodida. pic.twitter.com/acgTMar1oC
├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ Invictos (@InvictosSomos) November 29, 2016
Our hearts go out to the victims’ loved ones and the entire fanbase in the wake of this tragedy.
[Image via AP Images.]