Colombia plane crash: Brazilian football team Chapecoense among 77 people in mountain plane crash

'It's a tragedy of huge proportions'

Adam Withnall,Simon Calder,Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 29 November 2016 07:04
Plane carrying Brazilian football team crashes in Colombia

A plane carrying 77 people, including the squad of a top-flight Brazilian football team, has crashed in mountains outside the Colombian city of Medellin, killing 71 people on board.

The plane was carrying Brazilian football team Chapecoense to the biggest game in its history when it crashed.

The plane was on its way to the city's international airport from Bolivia when it crashed amid poor weather conditions.

Image of a Chapecoense badge purportedly found at the crash site, shared by Colombian media

The crash occurred shortly after 10pm local time (3am GMT) on Monday night. It is believed the pilots reported an electrical fault to the control tower, but investigators are also looking into reports the plane ran out of fuel before it crashed. Authorities said there were at least five survivors.

"May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation," the club said in a brief statement, adding it would not comment further until the extent of the crash became clearer.

"Confirmed, the aircraft license number CP2933 was carrying the team @ChapecoenseReal. Apparently there are survivors," the Jose Maria Cordova de Rionegro airport, which serves Medellin, said on its Twitter account.

Flight CP2933 departed Bolivia's Santa Cruz airport at 6.18pm Bolivia time (10.18pm GMT), according to flight tracking websites. It had 68 passengers on board and nine crew members.

Colombia's civil aviation head, Alfredo Bocanegra, initially said there were 75 confirmed fatalities, with six injured survivors.

They were listed as three players, a journalist and two members of the flight crew. Two of the six were in grave condition.

Alan Ruschel who plays for Chapecoense, on loan from Internacional, as a defender

Airport authorities in Medellin said on Twitter that poor weather made the crash site only accessible by road, and in the early hours of Tuesday they said the rescue effort had been suspended "because of heavy rain in the accident area".

"It's a tragedy of huge proportions," Medellin's Mayor Federico Gutierrez told Blu Radio on his way to the site.

Chapecoense is a team from southern Brazil, currently ranked 9th in the Brasileiro top division, and was scheduled to play the Copa Sudamerica finals against Atletico Nacional on Wednesday in Medellin.

Conmebol, the South American Football Confederation, issued a statement saying it “greatly regrets what happened” and that “all activities of the Confederation are suspended until further notice.” The confederation’s President, Alejandro Domínguez, was en route to Medellín.

The aircraft was an Avro RJ85, built in 1999 and previously owned by CityJet of Dublin. The model has a good safety record. It had reportedly carried the Argentinian national football team earlier this month.

Update: Colombia's disaster management agency, UNGRD, lowered the death toll on Tuesday evening after confirming four people on the passenger manifest did not board the flight. “Search and rescue operations found 71 victims and six survivors,” said a statement.

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