Plane Carrying Brazil's Chapecoense Soccer Team Crashes in Colombia

Five people survived and 76 others were killed when a plane carrying a Brazilian professional soccer team crashed in Colombia, an official said.

Gen. Jose Acevedo, the head of police in the mountainous area where the jet came down, confirmed the deaths to reporters early Tuesday.

Poor weather conditions had been reported at the time of the crash. At one point, rescue operations were suspended due to heavy rain.

The chartered jet operated by LaMia was carrying Chapecoense, a soccer team which plays in Brazil's top division. It crashed at around 10 p.m. ET on Monday while on its way from Santa Cruz in Bolivia to Medellin's international airport, which is located at an elevation of 7,000 feet.


Chapecoense had been scheduled to play the first of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Medellin-based Atlético Nacional on Wednesday.

"We deeply regret what happened to our Brazilian friends," Atlético Nacional said in a statement.

In addition to players and coaches, several reporters were also on the plane.

In a statement issued early Tuesday, Chapecoense said: "May God be with our athletes, directors, journalists and the other guests that were traveling together."


Airport authorities said access to the crash site could only be made by land due to the weather.

Earlier, The Associated Press quoted the mayor of the nearby city of Medellin as saying that at least three passengers were rescued alive from the crash site. Federico Gutierrez also described the incident as a "tragedy of huge proportions."

 


The plane was carrying 72 passengers and nine crew members, aviation authorities said in a statement.

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.

The team aboard Flight LMI-2933 is from the small city of Chapeco — which has a population of about 200,000.

It was in the middle of a fairy tale season.

Chapecoense joined Brazil's first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and last week qualified for the Copa Sudamericana finals — the equivalent of the UEFA Europa League tournament — after defeating Argentina's San Lorenzo squad.

NBC NEWS


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