A plane carrying the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense crashed in the outskirts of Medellín, Colombia on Monday night. The aircraft lost contact with traffic controllers at 09:54 p.m. local time.
The pilot managed to inform the plane had an electrical failure and declared an emergency state before crashing. Authorities initially rescued five survivors, and a sixth was later found. Rescue teams had to temporarily suspend the search because of lack of light, the weather and the dangers of the terrain.
Among the survivors, there are three players, two crew members, and a journalist. The rest of the passengers and crew members—76 in total— have died.
Members of the Chapecoense club, from southern Brazil, were flying to Colombia for the final matches of the Copa Sudamericana, a second-tier championship for Latin American soccer clubs. A seventh person was found alive when the first five people were rescued but died within minutes.
National air control has confirmed that a Lamia Corporation plane which departed from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, impacted at La Unión, a rural region of Antioquia close to Medellín. Firefighters, ambulances and rescue teams have been sent to the crash scene, which is located about 17 kilometers from the main road.
Rescuers had to walk for almost half an hour to get to the plane. They had to climb a steep hill to then descend about 500 meters and finally access the crash site.
Rescue efforts were temporarily suspended due to weather conditions and lack of light after evacuating survivors. Colonel José Acevedo, head of police in the area, stated work resumed around 06:30 a.m., as soon as the sun came up, according to a local newspaper, El Tiempo. Around 90 rescuers and 20 physicians are on the site of the accident.
Among the rescued players is Helio Hermito Zampier, the defense of the Chapecoense club. He was the last survivor to be found and was under the fuselage. Alan Ruschel, Zampier’s teammate, arrived at La Ceja hospital at 02:00 a.m. local time. He was in shock, asking for his family. Doctors say his condition is stable. Brazilian journalist Rafael Correa Gobbato also went to La Ceja hospital.
The Chapecoense club had to change their flight at the last minute
The Chapecoense first division team was going to play against Colombia Atlético Nacional on Wednesday. They were going to fly to Medellín on a charter flight, but the Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency did not authorize it.
The team arrived safely at a Bolivian airport before getting to their final destination, Colombia.
Chapeco, the city where the team is from, is located in the southern region of Brazil. It has around 200 thousand residents who are in tears after hearing about the accident. The Chapecoense club won their right to participate at the Copa Sudamericana final eight days ago, and now fans are devastated.
The team’s rival in the Copa Sudamericana final showed via Twitter their support to the Chapecoense team and their families.
“There are a lot of people crying in our city, we could never imagine this. Chapecoense is the biggest reason for joy here. We hope there are many survivors, at least that most of them are OK,” said Ivan Tozzo, vice president of the Brazilian first division club.
Source: El Tiempo