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Six survivors after plane crashes carrying Chapecoense Real soccer team

The plane had 81 passengers overall and there are some survivors.

Image: Luis Benavides

Updated at 1.30pm

SEVENTY-ONE PEOPLE have died after a plane carrying 81 passengers, including members of a top flight Brazilian football team, crashed in Colombia early this morning.

Colombia police have said that six people have survived the crash, and the rest of the passengers have all been killed.

The plane went down about 50 kilometres from Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, in an area called Cerro Gordo just before midnight last night local time (about 5am Irish time).

Officials originally said 75 people were killed. But reports now indicate that some people on the plane’s manifest may not have boarded.

The airport that serves Medellin said that among the passengers and  crew were members of Chapecoense Real, a Brazilian football club that was supposed to play against Colombia’s Atletico Nacional Wednesday in the South American Cup finals.

“Confirmed, the aircraft license number CP2933 was carrying the team @ChapecoenseReal. Apparently there are survivors,” the Jose Maria Cordova de Rionegro airport said on its Twitter account.

A police commander, Jose Gerardo Acevedo, initially said only five people survived the crash, but Colombian authorities later said a sixth person was found alive, raising hopes there might be other survivors, said AFP.

Photographs circulating on social media purporting to be from the official account of the Antioquia police department show the aftermath of the crash.

The BBC reports that one of the survivors was confirmed as Chapecoense defender Alan Ruschel.

“The pain is terrible. Just as we had made it, I will not say to the top, but to have national prominence, a tragedy like this happens. It is very difficult, a very great tragedy,” club vice-president Ivan Tozzo told Globo SportTV.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has expressed his condolences on behalf of the country.

Colombia Air Crash Rescue workers carry the body of a survivor of a plane that crashed in La Union. Source: AP/Press Association Images

He said: “This is a tragedy for those most immediately affected but also for the people of Brazil, where football lies at the core of their national identity. On behalf of the people of Ireland I would like to extend our condolences also to the people of Brazil.

“There are no reports of any Irish being involved in the incident but our embassy in Brazil, as well as our embassy in Mexico, which is accredited to Colombia, are in contact with the relevant authorities to confirm that this is the situation.”

COLOMBIA AIR CRASH A map of the departure, flight stop, destination and crash site of the plane. Source: AP

The LAMIA aircraft was flying from Bolivia to Medellin when it crashed in an area called Cerro Gordo about 50 kilometres from the city, Colombia’s second largest.

“It appears that the plane ran out of fuel,” Elkin Ospina, the mayor of the nearby town of La Ceja, told AFP.

“It’s a tragedy of huge proportions,” Gutierrez told Blu Radio on his way to the site in a mountainous area outside the city where the chartered aircraft crashed.

Colombia Air Crash Police officers and rescue workers search for survivors. Source: AP/Press Association Images

On its Twitter account earlier, the Medellin airport said the crash site could only be reached overland because of bad weather in the area.

Colombia’s civil aeronautics agency said it had a team at the airport in response to the crash.

In tears

Colombia Air Crash Chapecoense players celebrate after beating San Lorenzo in the Copa Sudamericana semi-finals. Source: Andre Penner/AP/Press Association Images

The team, from the small city of Chapeco, joined Brazil’s first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it to the Copa Sudamericana finals last week by defeating Argentina’s legendary San Lorenzo squad.

The vice president of the team said that Chapeco, a city of 200,000 residents in southern Brazil where they are from, is in tears after the crash.

Statement

In a statement on its Facebook page, Chapecoense said “may God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation.”

Conmebol, the South American football confederation, meanwhile officially called off the South American Cup final that was to be played between Chapecoense and Atletico Nacional.

“All activities of the confederation are suspended until further notice,” Conmebol said.

Atletico Nacional said on its Twitter account it “profoundly laments and expresses solidarity with @chapelcoensereal for the accident that occurred.”

© AFP 2016 with AP, Cormac Fitzgerald and Garreth MacNamee

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