Brazilian Soccer Team Wiped Out in Plane Crash
A fairytale season has ended in tragedy as the team flew to take part in the first major final in its history.
One of Brazil’s most talented and exciting soccer teams has been virtually wiped out after a plane carrying the team to its first major cup final crashed in Colombia.
The entire Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil were among the 81 passengers and crew on board, according to reports.
Colombian police have said there were six survivors of the crash.
Haunting video by a commercial tracking company showed the flight entering a spiral before the icon simply disappeared off screens shortly after 10 p.m. ET on Monday night.
Coaches, support staff, and Brazilian sports journalists were also on board the plane.
The names of some survivors have already emerged and these include players Helio Hermito Zampier Neto, defender Alan Ruschel, and reserve goalkeeper Jakson Follmann. Some reports said they were sitting next to each other on the plane. They have been taken to a hospital in La Ceja, 90 minutes from Medellin.
Sports journalist Rafael Henzel and crew member Ximena Suarez have also been named as survivors.
Goalkeeper Marcos Danilo was pulled form the wreckage alive but later died at a hospital.
Efforts to reach the remote crash site by helicopter had to be abandoned due to poor weather, with rescue vehicles traveling to the mountainous area by road instead. Medellin airport officials later said rescue operations had been suspended because of heavy rain in the area.
The team, from the small city of Chapeco, was experiencing a fairytale season.
They made it to the Copa Sudamericana finals—the second biggest continental soccer tournament—after defeating Argentina’s San Lorenzo squad, despite being only the the 21st-biggest club in Brazil in terms of revenue, bringing in around $13 million in 2015, according to an annual list compiled by Brazilian bank Itau BBA.
The horrific crash revived memories of the 1958 Munich air disaster when eight Manchester United players were among 23 people killed when the team aircraft crashed on takeoff.
Photos of wreckage were tweeted by local media in Colombia.
Flight tracking service Flightradar24 said on Twitter the last signal from Flight 2933 had been received when it was at 15,500 feet, about 30 kilometers from its destination.
The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline named LaMia, lost radar contact following an electrical failure, aviation authorities said.
Local radio said the same aircraft transported Argentina’s national squad for a match earlier this month in Brazil, and previously had transported Venezuela’s national team.
“Six people were rescued alive, but unfortunately one died. The rest of the occupants unfortunately died. The tragic toll is 76 victims,” Jose Gerardo Acevedo, regional police commander, told journalists.
“It’s a tragedy of huge proportions,” Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez told a local radio station.
The ultimate cause of the disaster remains unknown, however Elkin Ospina, the mayor of nearby town of La Ceja, told AFP “it appears that the plane ran out of fuel.”
However, other outlets claimed the pilot had acted heroically to dump fuel before the aircraft crashed, limiting the chances of an explosion that would have killed any survivors.