A chartered aircraft with 81 people on board most belonging to Brazilian football team Chapecoense, heading to Colombia for a regional tournament final, crashed just after midnight in central Colombia on its way to the international airport near Medellín.
It remains unclear that how many people survived but Columbian police said that six people have survived in the crash, three players, two crew members, and one journalist.
“It’s a tragedy of huge proportions,” Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez said on his way to the site in a mountainous area outside the city where aircraft crashed.
The football team was among the 72 passengers and 9 crew on board the charter aircraft when it crashed around 10:15 pm. on Monday.
Rescuers are moving the survivors. Rescue teams, from firefighters to disaster management officials, have been pressed into the search for survivors.
After three hours of emergency response, search and rescue operations were suspended due to the heavy rains falling on the unstable crash site on the Andean mountainside.
Alan Ruschel, a defender for Chapecoense, was the first player to reach a local hospital. Marcos Danilo and Jackson Follmann, two of the team’s goalkeepers, have also been widely listed among the survivors.
In addition to the team’s players, trainers, and support staff, the plane was carrying nine crew members and several Brazilian journalists. Following the crash, Aerocivil, the nation’s aviation regulator, released the fight manifest with the names of all 81 people aboard.
The aircraft, a British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane operated by a Bolivian charter airline named Lamia, declared an emergency at 10 pm on Monday (0300 GMT) due to an electrical failure.
Authorities and rescuers were immediately activated but an air force helicopter had to turn back due to low visibility.
The aircraft, which made a stop in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was carrying the soccer team, who had been due to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first leg of Wednesday’s Sudamericana final, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League.
At this time, Aerocivil was unable to say when exactly authorities will be able to recommence rescue operations or how many survivors there may still be within the wreckage.
Meanwhile, the South American football federation (CONMEBOL) put out a press release on its website saying the South American Cup final has been suspended after the crash.