MIN­UTES FROM HELL

Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

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.”

FATED: Bearded Ruschel’s snaps on plane, in­clud­ing two with goalie Pudilha

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