Brazil’s Chapecoense football team in Colombia plane crash


Rescue workers stand at the wreckage site of a chartered airplane that crashed in a mountainous area outside Medellin, Colombia, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016AP
The plane was travelling from Brazil via Bolivia

A plane carrying 81 people, including a top Brazilian football team, has crashed on its approach to the city of Medellin in Colombia.

Colombia’s civil aviation body says only six people survived the crash, blamed on an electrical fault.

The chartered aircraft, flying from Brazil via Bolivia, was carrying members of the Chapecoense team.

The team had been due to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana, against Medellin team Atletico Nacional.

Organisers say Atletico Nacional has asked for Chapecoense to be awarded the cup.

A statement by Fox Sports Latin America said that six employees from its Brazil operation died in the crash.

What happened?

The plane lost contact with ground controllers as it approached Medellin at about 22:15 (03:45 GMT), after the pilot reported an electrical fault. It came down in a mountainous area.

At least two of the survivors are footballers. They were confirmed to be defender Alan Ruschel and reserve goalkeeper Jackson Follman.

Some reports suggest another defender, Helio Neto, was also rescued.

Goalkeeper Marcos Padilha, also known as Danilo, was pulled alive from the wreckage but a spokesman said he later died in hospital.

The sports network Telemundo Deportes tweeted (in Spanish) that Ruschel was in shock but conscious and talking, and asked to keep his wedding ring and to see his family.

Who are Chapecoense? – Luis Barrucho, BBC Brasil

Chapecoense team at semi-final against Argentina's San Lorenzo - 24 NovemberAFP
The team were due to play in the first leg of the final of the Copa Sudamericana

Shortly before boarding in Sao Paulo, Chapecoense manager Cadu Gaucho, 36, appeared in a video posted on the team’s Facebook site [in Portuguese] describing the trip to Medellin as “the club’s most important to date”.

Playing in the final of the Copa Sudamericana was to be the highlight of a glorious season for the team from the small state of Santa Catarina, which has fewer than 200,000 inhabitants.

Founded in 1973, the team has been playing in Brazil’s Serie A since only 2014 but is currently ninth ahead of much more famous and established teams such as Sao Paulo, Fluminense and Cruzeiro.

Last week, it became the first Brazilian team in three years to make it to the final of the Copa Sudamericana, South America’s second most important club competition, after beating Argentine side San Lorenzo.

One of the founders of the club, Alvadir Pelisser, told BBC Brasil the tragedy had put an “end to everyone’s dream”. “We were a family, I’m shocked,” he added.

Rescuers are working in cold, hilly terrain with only hand torches for light

What is the reaction?

Brazilian President Michel Temer announced three days of national mourning, and top Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona held a minute’s silence at the beginning of their practice sessions.

Chapecoense issued a brief statement saying: “May God be with our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with our delegation.”

Rescue workers carry the bodies of victims of an airplane that crashed in a mountainous area outside Medellin, Colombia, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016AP
Bodies from the crash site were removed at daylight on Tuesday
A handout picture made available by Diario do Iguacu shows supporters of the Chapcoense FC gathering at the club in Chapeco, Brazil, on 29 November 2016.EPA/BIA PIVA / DIARIO DO IGUACU
Fans of Chapcoense have gathered at the club’s stadium in Chapeco, Brazil, to pay tribute

Later, the team’s vice-president, Ivan Tozzo, told cable channel SporTV: “There are a lot of people crying in our city. We could never imagine this. Chapecoense is the biggest reason for joy here.”

Goalkeeping coach Marcelo De Quadros Kunst stayed in Brazil with players who did not travel to Colombia.

He told the BBC: “We see wives fainting, ambulances taking them to the hospital, family members holding on to football boots left behind.”

South America map
Chapecoense crest blacked out as a mark of respect and mourningTwitter/Chapecoense
The Chapecoense badge has changed from green to black on the club’s social media account as a mark of respect

Other sporting plane crashes

  • September 2011: 36 players, coaches and officials from Russian ice hockey team Lokomotiv die in a crash north-east of Moscow;
  • April 1993: A crash in Libreville, Gabon, kills 18 players from Zambia’s male national football team;
  • December 1987: In Lima, Peru, a plane crash claims the lives of 16 players from first division team Alianza Lima, as well as their coach;
  • October 1972: Members of a Uruguyan rugby club were among 29 people who died in a crash in the Andes and in the subsequent freezing conditions;
  • February 1958: Eight players from English champions Manchester United are among the 29 victims of a crash in Munich