You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Triumph turns into tragedy in plane crash

dpadpa 29/11/2016 Rodrigo Ruiz-Tovar and Tatiana Rodriguez

Triumph turned into tragedy for the Brazilian football team killed in a crash.

The Brazilian football team Chapecoense AF were flying to what might have been their greatest triumph - the first game of the final of the Copa Sudamericana football tournament, planned for Wednesday in Medellin, Colombia.

Instead, they met tragedy, when their chartered airplane crashed in the Cerro Gordo mountains, killing 71 of 77 people on board.

Nineteen Chapecoense players were among the dead, as well as team officials, sport journalists and seven members of the plane's flight crew, officials said.

Just six people survived the disaster Monday night: Chapecoense defenders Alan Ruschel and Helio Hermito Zambier, known as Neto, and goalkeeper Jakson Follman as well as flight crew members Ximena Suarez and Erwin Tumiri and journalist Rafael Henzel.

They were all hospitalised with injuries. Follmann's injured right leg was amputated in surgery on Tuesday morning, the San Vicente Fundacion hospital said.

The cause of the crash in the Cerro Gordo mountains near Medellin in Colombia's north-eastern Antioquia region is as yet unknown.

The Avro RJ aircraft operated by Bolivian charter company Lamia Airlines was carrying nine crew members and 68 passengers from a stopover in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra for the 3,000-kilometre flight to Medellin when it disappeared from air traffic controllers' radar screens around 10pm local time on Monday.

Colombian Air Force Colonel Edgar Sanchez said that the flight crew had reported problems with the aircraft's electronics system before the accident.

Authorities have recovered the airplane's two flight data recorders, which the civil aviation authority said were in "perfect condition."

A post to the agency's Twitter feed showed a photo of two blackened orange cases marked "flight recorder - do not open" displayed on a tarpaulin.

Colombian Transport Minister Jorge Rojas said the black boxes would be key to discovering what caused the crash.

Bolivian air charter company Lamia Airlines was founded in 2009 in Venezuela, and began operations in Bolivia in January specialising in transporting footballers and with a single plane - the one that crashed Tuesday.

Sources say that Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi had travelled on the same Lamia plane less than three weeks ago, returning to Argentina after the national team's World Cup Qualifier against Brazil in Belo Horizonte.

Speaking to press in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, where the company is headquartered, Lamia director Gustavo Vargas said the British-built plane was "modern" and underwent weekly safety checks.

He said one of Lamia's owners, pilot Miguel Quiroga, was at the controls on the plane's final flight, and said Quiroga was trained in the Bolivian Air Force and that his pilot's licence was in order.

As condolences poured in from leaders, fans around the world and footballers including Pele, Neymar, Messi and Diego Maradona, Brazilian President Michel Temer declared three days of national mourning.

A "very shaken" Pope Francis sent his condolences to the victims' families, while South American Football Confederation president Alejandro Dominguez called it a "tragic day for football."

Thousands of fans gathered at Chapecoense's Arena Conda stadium in the southern Brazilian city of Chapeco in a spontaneous tribute to the team, Brazilian news portal Globoesporte reported.

The scrappy team, perennial underdogs, comes from the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, and was promoted to Brazil's first division in 2014.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon