Chapecoense striker found out he would be a father a week before plane crash

The plane crashed into a Colombian hillside, killing 75 and leaving six survivors

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The Independent US

A member of the Chapecoense team who died when the plane carrying him and 80 other people crashed in Colombia found out he was going to be a father a week before the crash.

The family of 22-year-old striker Thiaguinho released a video tribute of him discovering the news from a note and then celebrating with his teammates.

The chartered plane, carrying the Brazilian team to the biggest match of its history, crashed into a Colombian hillside and broke into pieces, killing 75 and leaving six survivors. 

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The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline with roots in Venezuela, declared an emergency and lost radar contact just before 10pm Monday (0300 GMT Tuesday) because of an electrical failure, aviation authorities said. 

The aircraft, which had departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was carrying the up and coming Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil for Wednesday's first leg of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin — the continent's second-most-important championship. 

"What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into a tragedy," Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez said from the search and rescue command center. 

The club said in a brief statement on its Facebook page, "May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation." 

Expressions of grief poured in from all over the soccer world. South America's federation canceled all scheduled matches in a show of solidarity, Real Madrid's squad interrupted its training for a minute of silence and Argentina legend Diego Maradona sent his condolences to the victims' families over Facebook. 

Rescuers working through the night were initially heartened after pulling three passengers alive from the wreckage. But as the hours passed, heavy rainfall and low visibility grounded helicopters and slowed efforts to reach the crash site. 

At daybreak, dozens of bodies were quickly collected into white bags while rescuers scavenged through pieces of the plane's fuselage strewn across the muddy mountainside. 

The team, from the small city of Chapeco, was in the middle of a fairy tale season. It joined Brazil's first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it last week to the Copa Sudamericana finals — the equivalent of the UEFA Europa League tournament — after defeating two of Argentina's fiercest squads, San Lorenzo and Independiente, as well as Colombia's Junior. 

"This morning I said goodbye to them and they told me they were going after the dream, turning that dream into reality," Chapecoense board member told TV Globo. "The dream was over early this morning." 

Additional reporting by agencies

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