An aircraft with 81 people on board, including a Brazilian first division soccer team, Chapecoense, heading to Medellin international airport has crashed in central Colombia, the South American country’s civil aviation association said on Tuesday.
The Chapecoense football team was among the 72 passengers and 9 crew on board the charter aircraft when it crashed around 10:15 p.m. on Monday.
AFP reports that atleast 76 people died in the air crash, while five were rescued alive. One of the five survivors died in hospital.
The aircraft, which made a stop in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the first division Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil. The team was scheduled to play on Wednesday in the first of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.
Heavy rain is reported to have forced rescue workers to suspend their work until dawn.
“It’s a tragedy of huge proportions,” Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez told Blu Radio on his way to the site in a mountainous area outside the city where aircraft crashed.
Aviation authorities said the aircraft, a British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane operated by a Bolivian charter airline named Lamia, declared an emergency at 10 pm on Monday (0300 GMT) due to an electrical failure.
The plane was given priority to land but didn’t make the airport, according to Alfredo Bocanegra, the head of Colombia’s civil aviation authority. Speaking to told Blu Radio: he said: “The plane reported an emergency on approach. It was given priority to land but then contact was lost.”
Meanwhile, the South American football federation (CONMEBOL) put out a press release on its website saying the South American Cup final has been suspended after the crash.
In a statement on its Facebook page, Chapecoense said “may God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation.”