Plane carrying Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team crashes in Colombia
COLOMBIA - Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense, heading for the biggest game in their history, were on board a plane that crashed into Colombian jungle, killing 76 people, police said yesterday. A photographer at the scene said dozens of bodies were laid out and covered with sheets around the wreckage as some 30 rescuers, police and military personnel searched the crash site of the plane that had had 81 people aboard. He said the BAe 146 charter aircraft had split in two with only the nose and wings recognizable and the tail end completely destroyed in the crash on Monday
Chapecoense, from Brazil’s top league, had been flying to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin on Wednesday in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League. It was the first time the small club from Chapeco had reached the final of a major South American club competition. Players Alan Luciano Ruschel, Marcos Danilo Padilha and Jakson Ragnar Follmann were listed as survivors in a statement from Colombia’s disaster management agency. Tributes poured in from the global soccer family. The club said in a statement it would not be making any official comments until it had more information from Colombian authorities. “Six people were rescued alive, but unfortunately one died. The rest of the occupants unfortunately died. The tragic toll is 76 victims,” Jose Gerardo Acevedo, regional police commander, told journalists. The plane crashed in a mountainous rural area outside of the city of Medellin and heavy rain at one point halted rescue operations. Flight tracking service Flightradar24 said on Twitter the last tracking signal from flight 2933 had been received when it was at 15,500 feet, about 30 km from its destination, which sits at an altitude of 7,000 feet.
Brazilian news organizations said 21 journalists had been on board to cover the match. The crash evoked memories of Munich air disaster in 1958, which killed 23 people, including eight Manchester United players, journalists and traveling officials.
World governing body FIFA said on Twitter its “thoughts were with the victims, their families, fans of Chapecoense and media organizations in Brazil on this tragic day”. Brazilian President Michel Temer expressed his grief: “I express my solidarity in this sad hour during which tragedy has beset dozens of Brazilian families,” he said, adding that Brazil’s foreign ministry and Air Force were working to assist the relatives. “The government will do all it can to alleviate the pain of the friends and family of sport and national journalism.”
The crashed airplane that carried 81 people on board, including players from a Brazilian football team in Colombia.(Photo: Xinhua)