Thousands gather to mourn victims
Traumatized survivors undergo treatment in Colombia as probe gets underway
Thousands squeezed into Chapeco’s cathedral and even more packed a stadium to mourn the death of 71 people in a plane crash, 19 of them members of the Chapecoense club who had been on the brink of soccer greatness.
“To lose (almost) all of them in such a tragic way, totally destroyed our city and each one of us,” Carla Vilembrini said on Tuesday, standing outside Santo Antonio Cathedral. She was dressed like so many others in the club’s green and white jerseys.
Chapecoense’s fantasy season ended on a muddy Colombian mountainside on Monday.
The club was having the best season in its 43-year history, heading to the first of two matches in the final of the Copa Sudamericana, the continent’s No 2 club tournament.
Distraught residents of this southern Brazilian city of 200,000 people, an agribusiness center near Argentina, wandered the streets around the stadium known as Arena Conda in stunned silence.
“The city is very quiet,” businessman Cecilio Hans said. “People will only believe once the bodies start to arrive.”
On social media, haunting last photos showed the smiling players boarding the flight to Colombia for their match with Atletico Nacional.
In one photo, the team celebrated a last-minute save by goalkeeper Danilo only a week ago against the Argentine club San Lorenzo. The save guaranteed Chapecoense a spot in the final and ultimately cost Danilo his life in the crash.
“I can’t still believe it,” Alan Heinz said inside the stadium.
“I was preparing for the best day of my life, and now I don’t know what my life will be after this,” he said.
The soccer world mourned on Tuesday after a plane carrying a Brazilian team crashed in the mountains in Colombia, killing 71 people but miraculously leaving six survivors, officials said.
Soccer legends Pele and Maradona as well as current superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo led tributes to the players of Chapecoense Real, a humble team whose march to glory was cut abruptly short.
Barcelona and Real Madrid held a minute of silence before their practice sessions during the day, and France’s top two leagues observed be a minute’s silence at Tuesday night’s games.
Medellin-based Atletico Nacional said it was asking the South American soccer confederation to give the Copa Sudamericana title to Chape as a tribute to the players who died.
Some of Brazil’s top clubs said they wanted to lend players to Chape for the 2017 season. They also said the team should not be relegated to the second division as it recovers from the disaster.
“The dream is not over. We will fight back when it’s time,” said Chape’s acting club president, Gelson Della Costa.
“Now it’s time to take care of the families,” he said.
Three days of mourning
Doctors treated traumatized survivors and an investigation was to get underway on Wednesday.
Investigators from Brazil were flying in to join Colombian counterparts checking two black boxes from the crash site on a muddy hillside in wooded highlands near La Union town.
Soldiers guarded the wreckage overnight after rescuers left, and investigators were to start work at first light.
Brazilian President Michel Temer declared three days of official mourning. Tragedy shocks soccer world Final voyage across Cuba
Mourners hold portraits of Fidel Castro during a rally honoring the late Cuban leader at the Revolution Plaza in Havana, Cuba, on Tuesday. The ashes of Castro began a four-day journey across the country on Wednesday to his final resting place in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.