A chartered aircraft with 81 people on board, including a Brazilian first division soccer team heading to Colombia for a regional tournament final, has crashed on its way to Medellin’s international airport, sources say.
Colombian aviation authorities have also indicated reports of at least six survivors.
“It’s a tragedy of huge proportions,” Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez told Blu Radio on his way to the site in a mountainous area outside the city where aircraft crashed.
The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a Bolivian charter airline named Lamia had 72 passengers and nine crew on board. Aviation authorities said the pilots had declared an emergency at 10 pm Monday (0300 GMT) due to an electrical failure. Authorities and rescuers were immediately activated but an air force helicopter had to turn back because of low visibility.
Según primeros reportes, en la aeronave (matrícula TT2933) viajaban 72 pasajeros y nueve tripulantes. Autoridades ya están en el lugar.— José María Córdova (@AeropuertoMDE) November 29, 2016
The aircraft, which made a stop in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the first division Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil, to Colombia where it was scheduled to play on Wednesday in the first of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.According to UK’s Telegraph, 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 Telegraph further adds that 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 – the equivalent of the UEFA Europa League tournament – after defeating Argentina’s San Lorenzo squad.