Tragedy Strikes as Brazilian Soccer Team’s Plane Crashes

Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense was heading to its biggest match in its history with 81 people on board a plane that crashed late Monday in Colombia. The crash killed 76 of the 81 people aboard, said authorities.

The club was headed to Medellin international airport when it crashed in a mountainous area nearby. Authorities in Colombia said that rescue efforts continue but have been hampered due to bad weather.

The plane, a short-haul British Aerospace 146 operated by LaMia a charter airline, declared an emergency on Monday night at 10:00 pm local time due to electrical failure said aviation officials.

Rescue personnel responded to the crash in La Union a town about 22 miles outside Medellin.

The aircraft had left Bolivia carrying 72 passengers and 9 crewmembers including the entire Chapecoense club as they were headed to play the first leg of the final in the Copa Sudamericana in Medellin against Atletico Nacional.

Antioquia police confirmed reports that first responders found 6 survivors, of which one died shortly thereafter while being attended to by rescue personnel.

Hours later, confirmation came from Colombian officials that another survivor was rescued from the plane’s fuselage and did not rule out that there could be other survivors.

The governing body of soccer in South America, CONMEBOL confirmed that the final of the Copa Sudamericana and all other federation activities were suspended indefinitely.

Amongst the survivors, whose injuries are not yet known, are Brazilian players Alan Ruschel, Jackson Follman, Helio Hermot Zampier Neto and Marcos Danilo Padiha.

A flight attendant from Bolivia, Ximena Suarez as well as Rafael Henzel a journalist from Brazil was amongst the six taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos was briefed on the accident. He activated the emergency management system in the country to help with the rescue efforts.

In a posted statement on its Facebook page, the Brazilian club Chapecoense said, “May God accompany the athletes, journalists, officials and other traveling with the delegation.”

The team announced that it would not release any further information until it had evaluated all that was involved with the crash.

One player with the club, Alejandro Martinuccio, who did not travel on the plane due to an injury, said he could not believe what had taken place.

Images were broadcast on television of three males arriving at a hospital on stretchers but alive with IVs connected to their arms. One of the three was reported to be Ruschel a defender on the club.

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