A plane with a Brazilian first division football team on board has crashed in Colombia while on its way to the finals of a regional tournament, killing 75 people.
Officials said that six people survived the crash near Medellin.
The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline named LaMia, declared an emergency at 10pm local time on Monday because of an electrical failure, aviation authorities said.
The aircraft, which had departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the Chapecoense team to Medellin’s Jose Maria Cordova airport.
The team was scheduled to play on Wednesday in the first of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.
“What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into a tragedy,” Medellin mayor Federico Gutierrez said from the search and rescue command centre.
The club said in a brief statement on its Facebook page that “may God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with our delegation”.
Brazil as well as South America’s football federation extended its condolences to the Chapecoense community and said its president, Luis Dominguez, was on his way to Medellin. All football activities were suspended until further notice, the organisation said in a statement.
The team, from the small city of Chapeco, was in the middle of a fairy tale season. It joined Brazil’s first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it last week to the Copa Sudamericana finals – the equivalent of the Uefa Europa League tournament – after defeating two of Argentina’s fiercest squads, San Lorenzo and Independiente, as well as Colombia’s Junior.
The club’s modest 22,000-seat arena was ruled by tournament organisers too small to host the final match, which was instead moved to a stadium 300 miles to the north in the city of Curitiba.
“Chapecoense was the biggest source of happiness in the town,” the club’s vice-president, Ivan Tozzo, told Brazil’s SporTV. “Many in the town are crying.”