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Brazil in Mourning as Plane Carrying Football Players Crashes in Colombia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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This file photo taken on November 2, 2016 shows Brazil’s Chapecoense goalkeeper Danilo gesturing during the Copa Sudamericana semifinal first leg football match, Juan Mabromata / AFP

Brazil declared a mourning period after a charter plane carrying members of Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense and several journalists crashed in the mountains in Colombia late Monday, killing 76 people, officials said.

According to the officials, five survived the disaster.

The LAMIA airlines charter declared an emergency at around 10 pm local time” 0300 GMT Tuesday, reporting it had suffered “electrical failures,” and crashed a short time later near the city of Medellin, officials said.

In all, there were 72 passengers and nine crew on board.

“We were able to rescue six people alive but one of them died on the way to the hospital,” Jose Gerardo Acevedo, a police commander, told reporters.

One of the survivors was Alan Ruschel, a 27-year-old defender for the Brazilian team, the head of Colombia’s civil aeronautics agency, Alfredo Bocanegra, told reporters.

Chapecoense Real is a football club which was to have played in the Copa Sudamericana finals on Wednesday against Atletico Nacional of Colombia.

Radio Caracol said two other players — Marcos Danilo Padilla and Jackson Follmann — also survived and were taken to area hospitals, along with a flight attendant and a journalist.

The LAMIA airlines flight originated in Sao Paulo, Brazil and had made a stop in Santa Cruz, Bolivia before continuing on to Rionegro, a city near Medellin.

The airport statement said the plane reported an emergency at 10 pm local time (0300 GMT). “It declared it had electrical failures.”

It went down about 50 kilometers from Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, in an area called Cerro Gordo.

Elkin Ospina, the mayor of the town of La Ceja near the crash site, said the mountainous terrain was some 3,300 meters above sea level and very difficult to access.

Rescuers carrying stretchers had to hike for more than half an hour to reach the site.

Conmebol, the South American football confederation, meanwhile officially called off the Copa Sudamericana final.

Brazil’s President Michel Temer expressed his grief for the victims of the crash and ordered a three-day mourning period.

“I express my solidarity in this sad hour during which tragedy has beset dozens of Brazilian families,” Temer said in a statement, adding that Brazil’s Foreign Ministry and Air Force were working to assist the relatives.

“The government will do all it can to alleviate the pain of the friends and family of sport and national journalism.”