The football world was plunged into mourning Tuesday after a plane carrying a Brazilian team crashed in the mountains in Colombia, killing 75 people, including players and journalists, with six survivors, officials said, AFP reports.
Football legends Pele and Maradona as well as current superstar Lionel Messi led tributes to the players of Chapecoense Real.
Having risen only recently from obscurity, the team was on its way to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana, South America’s second-biggest club tournament when the accident took place.
“The pain is terrible. Just as we had made it, I will not say to the top, but to have national prominence, a tragedy like this happens,” club vice-president Ivan Tozzo told Globo SportTV.
“It is very difficult, a very great tragedy.”
Colombia’s civil aviation authority said in a statement that 75 people were killed in the crash and six survivors were being treated in hospital.
The charter plane of Bolivian company LAMIA, which left from the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz, declared an emergency on Monday night.
It reported “electrical failures” and crashed a short time later near the city of Medellin, its destination, officials said.
The British Aerospace 146 airliner was first sold as new in 1999 and was used by two other airlines before being eventually acquired by LAMIA, a spokesman for the manufacturer toldAFP.
Aircraft tracking website Planespotters said it was sold to LAMIA in 2013.
Specialist sites revealed that the same plane was used two weeks ago to fly the Argentine national team with Messi on board to San Juan, Argentina for a World Cup qualifying match.
Rescuers and aviation authorities said the survivors were three players, two crew members and a journalist.
The cup final first-leg had been scheduled for Wednesday against Atletico Nacional of Colombia.
In an emotional gesture, Nacional called in a statement for the title to be handed to their opponents in tribute.
Brazil’s President Michel Temer declared three days of mourning for the victims.
Authorities have now confirmed that three Chapecoense players are among the five survivors.
The club said in a statement that it would not be making any official comments until it had more information from Colombian authorities about the crash.
Flight tracking service Flightradar24 said on Twitter the last tracking signal from flight 2933 had been received when it was at 15,500 feet, about 30km from its destination, which sits at an altitude of 7,000 feet.
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