71 dead after plane carrying Brazilian footballers crashes

The Chapecoense de Brasil footballers were due to play in the finals of South America's version of the Europa League. Three players are among the five survivors.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

The scene of the horrific plane crash in a mountainous region of Colombia.

Updated Nov 30, 2016

Brazil has declared three days of national mourning after 71 passengers were confirmed dead in a plane crash in central Colombia on Monday night. Authorities said that six passengers survived the crash.

The private plane with 77 on board including a football team, Chapecoense de Brasil, was headed to Colombia’s Medellin international airport when it crashed around 10:15pm local time, according to a statement issued by the airport.

Brazilian soccer player Alan Luciano Ruschel of Chapecoense football club receives medical attention after a plane crash in Antioquia, central Colombia November 29, 2016 (Reuters)

Brazil's president, Michel Temer, said "the government will do everything possible to alleviate the pain" of those family members involved in the crash.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Temer also said that officials from the foreign ministry and aviation officials were mobilising to aid the relief effort.

The aircraft, a British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane operated by Bolivian charter company, LaMia, declared an emergency and lost radar contact just before 10 pm Colombian time because of an electrical failure, aviation authorities said. 

Rescuers were dispatched but an air force helicopter had to turn back due to poor visibility.

The head of Colombia's civil aviation agency says that authorities are not ruling out the possibility the chartered flight carrying a Brazilian soccer team ran out of fuel before crashing. But for now, the main line of investigation is a possible electrical failure aboard the aircraft.

Rescuers were dispatched but an air force helicopter had to turn back due to poor visibility.

Heavy rain first hampered and then halted rescue operations.

"May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with our delegation," Chapecoense said in a statement on its official Facebook page.

The club said it would comment further once more details emerged.​ The South American football federation has suspended all games and other activities following the crash. 

Chapeoense were the 21st biggest club in Brazil in terms of revenue, bringing in 46 million reais ($13.5 million) in 2015, an annual rich list compiled by Brazilian bank Itau BBA said. 

TRTWorld and agencies