75 dead in Brazil soc­cer team plane crash

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News/worldwide -

A CHAR­TERED plane car­ry­ing top-tier Brazil­ian soc­cer team Chapecoense to the biggest game in its his­tory crashed in the Colom­bian moun­tains, killing 75 peo­ple on board, au­thor­i­ties said yes­ter­day.

Dozens of bod­ies were laid out and cov­ered with sheets around the wreck­age of the BAe 146 air­craft, which was ly­ing in mud near La Union, a small town out­side Medellin.

The plane went down about 10:15 pm on Mon­day night with 72 pas­sen­gers and a crew of nine. It was un­clear what caused the crash, although lo­cal me­dia said the plane had re­ported an elec­tri­cal fault shortly be­fore it dis­ap­peared off radar screens.

A Reuters pho­tog­ra­pher said the plane split in two, de­stroy­ing the tail end. Rain ham­pered the dozens of res­cuers as they combed the muddy and forested area.

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. Yes­ter­day, Atletico Na­cional of­fered the cham­pi­onship to Chapecoense.

It was the first time the small club from the south­ern city of Chapeco had reached the fi­nal of a ma­jor South Amer­i­can club com­pe­ti­tion.

Colom­bia’s civil avi­a­tion head, Al­fredo Bo­cane­gra, said by yes­ter­day morn­ing, there were 75 con­firmed fa­tal­i­ties, with six in­jured sur­vivors. He said the death toll could rise.

Tributes poured in from the global soc­cer fam­ily and Brazil de­clared three days of mourn­ing.

“I ex­press my sol­i­dar­ity in this sad hour dur­ing which tragedy has be­set dozens of Brazil­ian fam­i­lies,” Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer said.

“The gov­ern­ment will do all it can to al­le­vi­ate the pain of the friends and fam­ily of sport and na­tional jour­nal­ism.”

Brazil­ian news or­gan­i­sa­tions said 21 jour­nal­ists had been on board to cover the match.

Colom­bia’s dis­as­ter man­age­ment agency listed play­ers Alan Ruschel, Danilo Padilha and Jak­son Foll­mann as sur­vivors.

Flight track­ing ser­vice Fligh­tradar24 said on Twit­ter the last track­ing sig­nal from flight 2933 had been re­ceived when it was at 15,500 feet (4,724 m), about 30 km (18.64 miles) from its des­ti­na­tion, which sits at an altitude of 7,000 feet (2133 m).

The BAe 146 was pro­duced by a com­pany that is now part of the UK’s BAE Sys­tems

The crash evoked mem­o­ries of other soc­cer air disasters, in­clud­ing the Mu­nich crash in 1958 that killed 23 peo­ple, in­clud­ing eight Manch­ester United play­ers, jour­nal­ists and trav­el­ling of­fi­cials.

World gov­ern­ing body FIFA said on Twit­ter its “thoughts were with the vic­tims, their fam­i­lies, fans of Chapecoense and me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions in Brazil on this tragic day.”

Chapecoense qual­i­fied for the biggest game in its his­tory af­ter over­com­ing the Ar­gen­tine club San Lorenzo in the semi-fi­nal on away goals fol­low­ing a 1-1 draw in Buenos Aires and 0-0 draw at home.

They were un­der­dogs for the match against a club go­ing for a rare dou­ble af­ter win­ning the Copa Lib­er­ta­dores in July.— Reuters.

Res­cue crew work in the wreck­age from a plane that crashed into a Colom­bian jun­gle while car­ry­ing Brazil­ian soc­cer team Chapecoense near Medellin, Colom­bia, yes­ter­day

Ja­cob Zuma

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