Plane carrying football team crashes

Photo credit: RT

A chartered aircraft with 81 people on board, including a Brazilian first division football team heading to Colombia, has crashed on its way to Medellin’s international airport.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the team was going to Colombia for a regional tournament final.

Aviation authorities said there are however reports of at least six survivors.

“It’s a tragedy of huge proportions,” an Associated Press report from Bogota in Colombia quoted the Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez as telling a local radio station.

He was on his way to the site in a mountainous area outside the city where the aircraft crashed.

Aviation authorities said the British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane declared an emergency at 10 p.m. Monday (0300 Tuesday GMT) due to an electrical failure.

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The plane was operated by a Bolivian charter airline named Lamia.

Authorities and rescuers were immediately activated but an air force helicopter had to turn back because of low visibility.

They urged journalists to stay away from the hard-to-access zone and stay off the roads to facilitate the entry of ambulances and rescuers.

The area has been hit by heavy rains in recent days.

An ambulance transporting a male passenger with oxygen and covered in a blanket arrived on a stretcher to a local hospital, Blu Radio reported. He was apparently alive.

The aircraft, which made a stop in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the first division Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil.

The team was scheduled to play Wednesday in the first of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.

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.

A video published on the team’s Facebook page showed the team readying for the flight earlier Monday in Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos international airport.

The team, from the small city of Chapeco, was in the middle of a fairy tale season.

It joined Brazil’s first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it last week to the Copa Sudamericana finals after defeating Argentina’s San Lorenzo squad.

The Copa Sudamericana is the South American equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.

(NAN)

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