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Plane carrying a Brazilian soccer team crashes in Colombia with just five survivors

by David Gilbert
Nov 29 2016, 6:37am

A plane carrying 81 people crashed in Colombia on Monday night with local police confirming that just five people have survived. The aircraft passengers included members of the Chapecoense soccer team.

The chartered flight was carrying 72 passengers and 9 crew, including members of the team and traveling journalists. The plane crashed near the town of Cerro Gordo in Columbia, about 30 kilometres from Medellin, where the team was scheduled to play local team Atletico Nacional in the final of the Copa Sudamericana on Wednesday.

Medellin police chief José Acevedo told journalists that six people were initially pulled alive from the wreckage, but that one later died in hospital.

The Telegraph reports that two Chapecoense players, Alan Ruschel and Marcos Danilo, were among the survivors. Reuters has named Jacson Ragnar Follmann as another surviving player. Passengers Rafael Correa Gobbato and Ximena Suarez are also confirmed to be alive.

The Colombian Civil Aviation Authority has released a full list of passengers onboard the aircraft.

The plane crashed in a mountainous area, and very poor weather meant the site was only accessible by road, hindering rescue efforts. Early on Tuesday rescue efforts were delayed by heavy rain. Aviation authorities have said that the plane, which is operated by Bolivian charter airline Lamia, declared an emergency at 10 p.m. local time on Monday. The statement lists electrical failure as the reason for the crash.

The British Aerospace 146 aircraft, in service since 1999, had been travelling from southern Brazil, but had made a stop in Bolivia on the way to Medellin.

The Chapecoense club issued a brief statement on its Facebook page: “May God be with our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation.” The Brazilian football association said in a statement that it was praying for the passengers and crew.

Medellin’s mayor Federico Gutierrez told Blu Radio that “it’s a tragedy of huge proportions.” The Brazilian president Michel Temer has also expressed his sympathies, writing on Twitter that he would offer every possible assistance to the victims and their families.