A chartered plane with a Brazilian first division soccer team on board crashed in a mountainous area near Medellin while on its way to the finals of a regional tournament, killing 76 people, Colombian officials say. Five people survived, including three players, reports Reuters. Aviation authorities say the British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline named LaMia, declared an emergency at 10pm because of an electrical failure, the AP reports. The aircraft, which had departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the Chapecoense soccer team to Medellin's Jose Maria Cordova International Airport. The team started the journey in Sao Paulo. A Reuters photographer described the tail section as having been severed from the plane and totally destroyed.
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 after defeating two of Argentina's fiercest squads, San Lorenzo and Independiente, as well as Colombia's Junior. "What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into a tragedy," Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez said from the search-and-rescue command center. "May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists, and other guests traveling with our delegation," the club said in a brief statement on its Facebook page. The Guardian reports Brazilian President Michel Temer has declared three days of mourning. (Read more plane crash stories.)