Charter plane carrying 81 passengers, most belonging to Brazilian football team Chapecoense, crashed just after midnight in central Colombia on its way to the international airport of Medellín, José María Cordova.
It remains unclear how many people survived the crash, but the local police told the media hours later that only five were left alive, with the other 76 believed to be dead. The nation’s aviation authority, Aerocivil, had previously said that it could confirm six survivors: three players, two crew members, and one journalist.
Alan Ruschel, a defender for Chapecoense, was the first player to reach a local hospital. Marcos Danilo and Jackson Follmann, two of the team’s goalkeepers, have also been widely listed among the survivors.
In addition to the team’s players, trainers, and support staff, the plane was carrying nine crew members and several Brazilian journalists. Following the crash, Aerocivil released the flight manifest with the names of all 81 people aboard.
After three hours of emergency response, search and rescue operations were suspended due to the heavy rains falling on the unstable crash site on the Andean mountainside.
The team was on its way to face Atlético Nacional of Medellín in the first match of the Copa Sudamericana tournament final on Wednesday. After departing from São Paulo on Monday, the team stopped in Bolivia and was making its last leg from Santa Cruz to Colombia’s second largest city when it declared an emergency less than 50 kilometers from its destination, according to Colombian officials.
The South American Football Confederation has suspended the Copa Sudamericana as a result of this air tragedy and football associations around the world are expressing their solidarity with the Santa Catalina-based Chapecoense. FC Barcelona striker Neymar expressed his condolences and Argentina’s national team announced it had suspended a friendly Under 20 match with Uruguay.
According to the Rio Negro control tower, the flight crew encountered electrical problems as it flew between the towns of La Ceja and La Unión in central Antioquia. The reason for the crash remains unknown at this time. The plane was operated by the Bolivian company LaMia and a short-haul British Aerospace Avro 146 with four turbofan engines.
As Brazilians awoke early Tuesday morning to news of the tragedy, President Michel Temer announced via twitter three days of official mourning and expressed that his government would do everything possible to alleviate the suffering of the family members and friends of Brazilian football and journalism.
So far the country’s Aerocivil has not released information as to when authorities will be able to recommence rescue operations given the heavy rains across central Colombia or if more survivors could be found within the wreckage.
WATCH BELOW THE LAST VIDEO FOOTAGE INSIDE THE PLANE