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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Plane Carrying a Brazilian Soccer Team Crashes in Colombia, Killing 76

Seventy-six people died when a chartered plane carrying members of a Brazilian soccer club crashed on the outskirts of Medellín, Colombia, the authorities said early Tuesday.

Five of the 81 people onboard survived the crash, according to Brig. Gen. José Gerardo Acevedo, the police commander for the area surrounding Medellín, news agencies reported.

Colombia’s civil aviation agency said the flight was operated by a small airline, LaMia, and carried the soccer club Chapecoense de Brasil.

The team was traveling from Bolivia to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana tournament when the plane crashed about 10 p.m. on Monday.

The aircraft was carrying 72 passengers and nine crew members, according to a statement issued by the Medellín airport. The search was being hampered by low visibility and the rescue crews’ difficulty in reaching the site.

The authorities said the plane had reported electrical problems as it flew near the towns of La Ceja and La Unión in the mountainous stretches around Medellín.

The South American Football Confederation said it had suspended the Copa Sudamericana, and the group’s president is heading to Medellín.

Players from the Chapecoense de Brasil soccer team on Thursday before the second leg of the Copa Sudamericana semifinal. Credit Nelson Almeida/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The Colombian station Blu Radio, citing an interview it conducted with Alfredo Bocanegra, Colombia’s civil aviation director, said the plane had declared an emergency as it approached Medellín. The plane was given priority to land before air traffic controllers lost contact with it.

Federico Gutiérrez, the mayor of Medellín, told Blu Radio that “emergency support, with firefighters, ambulances and the hospital network,” had been activated.

Members of Chapecoense, a soccer club from the southern Brazilian city of Chapecó, were flying to Colombia for the first match of a two-leg final in the Copa Sudamericana, a second-tier championship for South American clubs.

That match, against Colombia’s Atlético Nacional, was scheduled for Wednesday in Medellín. Chapecoense beat San Lorenzo — the Argentine club that counts Pope Francis as a fan — in the semifinals, and clubs like Colombia’s Atlético Junior and Argentina’s Independiente along the way.

The club, founded in 1973, had in recent years clawed its way to what is effectively the top tier, and its play in Copa Sudamericana this tournament had been its high-water mark.

Culled from NewYork Times

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