Plane carrying footballers from Brazil crashes in Colombia

Colombian police confirmed that three players and two passengers survived the crash. Rest of the 76 passengers were declared dead.

Earlier, the club posted a picture of the team on Twitter after boarding the flight.   -  Twitter

Seventy-one people were killed and six survived when a plane carrying a Brazilian football team crashed in the Colombian mountains, officials said Tuesday, lowering the initial death toll by four.

"Search and rescue operations found 71 victims and six survivors," Colombia's disaster management agency, UNGRD, said in a statement.

The civil aviation authority had initially given a death toll of 75, but it later emerged that four people on the passenger manifest had not in fact boarded the plane.

The plane crash that wiped out Brazil's Chapecoense football team also killed 20 Brazilian journalists, ranging from veteran commentators to young local reporters.

Most of the attention has focused on the football players traveling to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana regional tournament. However, the passengers also included a large number of journalists covering the match.

They included six employees from the Brazilian affiliate of Fox Sport television. One of them, Mario Sergio, was a well known on air commentator and former Brazilian international football player.

Four others were from Brazil's giant media holding Globo and four more from Globo outlet RBS TV.

There were also six reporters from small radio stations based around Chapecoense's home of Chapeco in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Caterina, such as Radio Chapeco, Radio Oeste Capital and Radio Vang FM.

READ: >Tragedy claims the Leicester City of Brazil

Three players from Chapecoense were among survivors, Brazilian media reported. TV channels Globonews and SporTV identified the players as defender Alan Ruschel, goalkeeper Danilo and reserve goalkeeper Jakson Follmann. The other two survivors are journalist Rafael Henzel and crew member Ximena Suárez.

It is said that Chapecoense squad had applied for a charter flight but request was denied by Civil Aviation Agency.

Earlier, in a post on the club's official Facebook page, Chapecoense said: “Given the conflicting reports emerging from different journalistic sources concerning the crash of the plane carrying the Chapecoense players, the Chapecoense football association through it vice-president, Ivan Tozzo, is refraining from comment and awaiting official announcements from the Colombian air authorities. May God be with our athletes, leaders, journalists and the other guests who are with the delegation.”

Players celebrating after reaching Copa Sudamericana final

"It's a tragedy of huge proportions," Medellin's Mayor Federico Gutierrez Gutierrez told Blu Radio on his way to the site in a mountainous area outside the city where aircraft crashed.

Aviation authorities said the aircraft, a British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane operated by a Bolivian charter airline named LaMia, declared an emergency at 10 p.m. 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 and later on rain.

The aircraft, which made a stop in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the first division Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil. Chapecoense was scheduled to play on Wednesday in the first of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin. After reaching the final, Chapecoense's manager Caio Junior had said: "If I died today, I'd die happy."

After learning of the crash, the South American football confederation >CONMEBOL said the football tournament has been suspended.

The plane was carrying 72 passengers — 52 members of Chapecoense and 21 journalists — and nine crew members, aviation authorities said in a statement. Local radio said the same aircraft transported Argentina's national squad for a match earlier this month in Brazil.

A video published on the team's Facebook page showed the team readying for the flight earlier on Monday in Sao Paulo's Guarulhos international airport. The club also posted a picture of the team on Twitter after boarding the flight.

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 crash may have occurred due to lack of fuel at around 10.15 p.m. (local time), according to Mi Oriente. "It appears that the plane ran out of fuel," Elkin Ospina, the mayor of the nearby town of La Ceja, told AFP.

On its Twitter account, 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.

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