Chapecoense footballers among 76 dead in Colombia plane crash

Updated 2016-11-30 10:33:24 Xinhua
Image provided by Noticias Telemedellin shows rescuers inspecting the site of the crashed plane carrying the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense, in La Ceja municipality, near Medellin, in the department of Antioquia, Colombia, on Nov. 29, 2016. (Xinhua/Noticias Telemedellin)

Image provided by Noticias Telemedellin shows rescuers inspecting the site of the crashed plane carrying the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense, in La Ceja municipality, near Medellin, in the department of Antioquia, Colombia, on Nov. 29, 2016. (Xinhua/Noticias Telemedellin)

A plane carrying players from Brazilian football team Chapecoense has crashed in Colombia, killing 76 people, authorities said on Tuesday.

The chartered flight from Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia to Medellin included 72 passengers and nine crew. Police said there were five survivers while one other passenger died in hospital.

The entire Chapecoense football team were on board the British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, as well as several journalists.

"There has been a great loss of human lives," Medellin mayor Federico Gutierrez Zuluaga said.

"It's a true tragedy what has happened. We deeply regret this loss and express our solidarity with families, friends and fans of Chapecoense."

Authorities said it was not clear what caused the crash. Airport officials said the pilot had declared an emergency to air traffic control officials due to a "technical failure" during a heavy rainstorm, according to local media reports.

Flight data showed the plane circling the Rio Negro airport near Medellin before disappearing off the radar.

Antioquia police colonel Jose Gerardo Acevedo said an emergency operation had been launched to allow rescue teams to reach the accident scene, in a mountainous region about 30 kilometres from the airport.

Military helicopters were deployed though efforts to access the area were hampered by bad weather, Acevedo said.

Chapecoense was scheduled to play Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final on Wednesday.

South American football's governing body Conmebol said in a statement that the Copa Sudamericana final had been suspended, along with "all federation activities".

Survivors included Chapecoense players Jackson Follman, Alan Ruschel, Marcos Danilo Padilha and Helio Hermito Zampier Neto.

Bolivian flight attendant Ximena Suarez and Brazilian journalist Rafael Henzel were also receiving treatment in hospital.

Chapecoense goalkeeper Danilo, who had originally survived the crash, died from his injuries.

Brazil's president Michel Tamer was among those to pay tribute to the victims and declared three days of national mourning.

"At this sad time I would like to express my solidarity," Temer said in a statement. "We are offering all the support we can to families and providing all the assistance possible."

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