MINUTES FROM HELL
HOPE: Ruschel survived TRAGEDY: Plane crashed in mountain region A TOP football team’s players posed for photos and took selfies before the plane carrying them to a tournament crashed, killing 76.
The chartered aircraft carrying the Brazilian first division club plunged into remote mountains in Colombia while on its way to the finals of the Copa Sudamerica, the most important game in its history.
Officials said seven of the 81 people on board survived the crash near Medellin but two, including Chapecoense’s goalie, have since died.
The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane declared an emergency at 10pm local time on Monday due to electrical failure, aviation authorities said.
Rescue operations were hampered due to low visibility but authorities working through the night had been heartened after pulling some passengers alive from the wreckage.
Images broadcast on local television showed three male passengers arriving to a local hospital in ambulances on stretchers. One of them was reportedly defender Alan Ruschel, who had posed for selfies with goalie Danilo Padilha.
Earlier, a video published on the team’s Facebook page showed them readying for the flight in Sao Paulo.
The aircraft, which had departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the team to Medellin’s Jose Maria Cordova airport.
The southern Brazil club had been scheduled to play on Wednesday in the first of a two-game final – the South American equivalent of the Europa League – against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.
Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez said: “What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into a tragedy.”
Brazil as well as South America’s football federation extended its condolences to the entire Chapecoense community and said its president, Luis Dominguez, was on his way to Medellin.
All football activities were suspended until further notice, the organization said in a statement.
The team, from the small city of Chapeco, was in the middle of a fairy tale season, having joined Brazil’s first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it last week to the Copa Sudamericana finals after beating two of Argentina’s fiercest squads, San Lorenzo and Independiente, as well as Colombia’s Junior.
“Chapecoense was the biggest source of happiness in the town,” the club’s vice-president, Ivan Tozzo, told Brazil’s SporTV.
“Many in the town are crying.”
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