A charter plane carrying Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense to the biggest game in its history crashed in the Colombian mountains after an electrical fault, killing 75 people on board, authorities said on Tuesday.
Colombia’s worst air disaster in two decades killed all but three players on the up-and-coming team from Brazil’s top soccer league as it flew to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League.
Global soccer was stunned with tributes pouring in from major figures including Pele, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney.
The BAe 146 plane, en route from Bolivia where the team had a stopover, went down about 10:15 p.m. on Monday night with 72 passengers and a crew of nine on board.
The aircraft had reported electrical problems and declared an emergency minutes earlier as it neared its destination, Medellin airport officials said.
At the crash scene near the town of La Union in wooded highlands outside Medellin, dozens of bodies were laid out and covered with sheets around the wreckage.
Colombia’s civil aviation authority said there were 75 confirmed fatalities. It identified the six survivors as players Alan Ruschel, Jackson Follmann and Hélio Neto; journalist Rafael Valmorbida; Bolivian flight attendant Ximena Suarez; and Bolivian flight technician Erwin Tumiri.
In addition to players, coaches and staff, 21 journalists had been on board the plane to cover the match, Brazilian news organizations said.