A chartered plane carrying a first-division Brazilian soccer team crashed in northwestern Colombia on Monday night, killing 76 of the 81 people aboard, authorities said. Six people initially survived the crash, but one of them died a short time later, authorities said.
The plane took off from Bolivia and was flying over the town of La Union at around 10 p.m. when electrical problems were reported, according to a statement from the José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, Colombia. The plane crashed moments later a mountainous area in the Antioquian municipality, about 22 miles from the airport, which serves the city of Medellin.
There were 72 passengers included members of Chapecoense, a Brazilian soccer team that had risen from relative obscurity to play in one of South America’s most prestigious tournaments. The team had been scheduled to play in the Copa Sudamerica finals against Atletico Nacional on Wednesday in Medellin.
“It’s a tragedy of huge proportions,” Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez told Blu Radio on his way to the scene of the crash.
“May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation,” the club said in a statement on its Facebook page.
Chapecoense defender Alan Ruschel, 27, was in a stable condition after being pulled from the plane’s wreckage, said Alfredo Bocanegra, head of Colombia’s civil aeronautics agency. He said two other players, a journalist and a flight attendant Ximena Suarez also survived and where taken to nearby hospitals.
Rescue efforts are underway and authorities are asking residents to stay away from the crash site.
The South American soccer federation canceled games until further notice and said its president, Alejandro Dominguez, was travelling to Medellin.
The plane is a British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane. It is not clear what caused the crash, but Colombia had been hit by heavy rains and thunderstorms in recent hours.
Contributing: Associated Press.