Saturday 10 December 2016

Brazilian team pose for photo in front of doomed jet which crashed killing 76

* Rescuers recovering bodies on site
* Brazil's Chapecoense football team among those on board
* Poor weather leaves crash site accessible only by road

Published 29/11/2016 | 06:10

Rescue workers search for survivors at he wreckage of a chartered airplane that crashed in La Union, a mountainous area outside Medellin, Colombia. Picture: AP Photo/Luis Benavides
A survivor of the air crash near Medellin, Colombia arrives a hospital in Medellin in this image taken from TV. Picture: Medellin TV via AP
A survivor of the air crash near Medellin, Colombia arrives a hospital in Medellin in this image taken from TV Tuesday. Picture: Medellin TV via AP
Alan Ruschel (R) & Danilo (Photo: Alan Ruschel/Instagram)
Brazil's Chapecoense players posing for pictures during their 2016 Copa Sudamericana semifinal second leg football match against Argentina's San Lorenzo held at Arena Conda stadium, in Chapeco, Brazil. Picture: / AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDANELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers and rescue workers search for survivors around the wreckage of a chartered airplane that crashed in La Union, a mountainous area outside Medellin, Colombia. Picture: AP Photo/Luis Benavides
Brazilian soccer player Alan Luciano Ruschel of Chapecoense soccer club receives medical attention after a plane crash in Antioquia, central Colombia November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Guillermo Ossa/EL TIEMPO
Players of Brazil's Chapecoense celebrate at the end of a Copa Sudamericana semifinal soccer match against Argentina's San Lorenzo in Chapeco, Brazil. Picture: AP Photo/Andre Penner, File
Route taken by plane before crash at Cerro el Gordo

This is the Brazilian football team posing together for the last time in front of their charter plane which crashed in Colombia overnight.

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Police have confirmed that 76 people were killed in the crash.

A Reuters photographer at the scene said dozens of bodies were laid out and covered with sheets around the wreckage as some 30 rescuers, police and military personnel searched the crash site of the plane that had had 81 people aboard.

He said the BAe 146 charter aircraft had split in two with only the nose and wings recognizable and the tail end completely destroyed in the crash on Monday night.

The flight was coming in to land in the city of Medellin when the incident happened, according to the country's civil aviation association.

The jet suffered power failures and officials said it crashed into a mountain in the Antioquia Department.

Rescuers are moving survivors from the crash site, the aviation body added.

The chartered plane, flying from Bolivia, was carrying members of the Chapocoense football team, airport officials said.

The Brazil Serie A side were scheduled to play in the Copa Sudamerica finals against Atletico National in Medellin on Wednesday.

A number of journalists were also believed to be on board the flight.

Heartbreaking images have since emerged online showing the team members posing in front of the plane.

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Route taken by plane before crash at Cerro el Gordo
Route taken by plane before crash at Cerro el Gordo

Separate images show two footballers, Defender Alan Ruschel and goalkeeper Danilo Padilha, posing for selfies during the journey from Brazil with Ruschel, 27, telling fans: 'We’re coming Colombia.'

Alan-Ruschel-R-Danilo.jpg  

Both Ruschel and Danilo were pulled alive from the wreckage but Danilo later died in hospital. Goalkeeper Jacson Follmann as well as passengers Rafael Correa Gobbato and Ximena Suarez survived the crash, officials said.

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

The city's mayor Federico Gutierrez told Blu Radio: "It's a tragedy of huge proportions."

He said ambulances and rescuers were on their way. It is not clear what caused the crash.

However airport authorities said poor weather conditions made the crash site accessible only by road.

The aircraft was reported missing as of 10 pm on Monday night, when officials at the José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro waited for the plane to arrive at the air terminal.

According to the Emergency Operating Committee and Airport Management, the aircraft stated that it had electrical faults.

The plane had departed at 6:18pm this Monday (Bolivia time) from the city of Santa Cruz.

"The plane asked for priority to land in Rionegro, it was given, but then the contact was lost," said Alfredo Bocanegra, director of Aerocivil, told La Colombiana newspaper.

A video published on the football team's Facebook page showed players readying for the flight earlier on Monday in Sao Paulo's Guarulhos international airport.

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.

TRIBUTES

The crash evoked memories of Munich air disaster in 1958, which killed 23 people, including eight Manchester United players, journalists and travelling officials.

World governing body FIFA said on Twitter its "thoughts were with the victims, their families, fans of Chapecoense and media organisations in Brazil on this tragic day".

Brazilian President Michel Temer expressed his grief: "I express my solidarity in this sad hour during which tragedy has beset dozens of Brazilian families," he said, 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."

Chapecoense qualified for the biggest game in their history after overcoming Argentine club San Lorenzo in the semi-final on away goals following a 1-1 draw in Buenos Aires and a 0-0 draw at home.

They were very much the underdogs for the match against a club going for a rare double after winning the Copa Libertadores in July.

Chapecoense were the 21st biggest club in Brazil in terms of revenue, bringing in 46 million reais ($13.5 million) in 2015, according to an annual rich list compiled by Brazilian bank Itau BBA.

The club has built its success on a frugal spending policy that eschewed big money signings and instead concentrated on blending young talent and experienced journeymen.

Their best-known player was Cleber Santana, a midfielder whose best years were spent in Spain with Atletico Madrid and Mallorca. Coach Caio Junior was also experienced, having managed at some of Brazil's biggest clubs, Botafogo, Flamengo and Palmeiras among them

The crash prompted an outpouring of solidarity and grief on social media from the footballing community, with Brazilian top flight teams Flamengo and Santos tweeting messages of support.

Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas tweeted: "My condolences for the plane accident that carried @ChapecoenseReal. Tough moment for football. Good luck and stay strong!"

The South American football federation has suspended all games and other activities.

The federation, CONMEBOL, said its president, Alejandro Dominguez, was on his way to Medellin, near the crash site.

"All federation activities are suspended until further notice," it added in a statement on its website. Chapecoense had been due to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first leg of Wednesday's Sudamericana final.

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