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71 People Die in Plane Crash Involving Brazilian Football Team Chapecoense

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist

Brazil's Chapecoense players pose for pictures during their 2016 Copa Sudamericana semifinal second leg football match against Argentina's San Lorenzo  held at Arena Conda stadium, in Chapeco, Brazil, on November 23, 2016. / AFP / NELSON ALMEIDA        (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
NELSON ALMEIDA/Getty Images

A plane carrying Brazilian football team Chapecoense crashed on approach to Medellin, Colombia, on Nov. 28, killing 71 of the 77 people on board.

The death toll was lowered to 71, as four passengers listed were not on the flight, according to the Associated Press. Colombian authorities, as reported by Reuters (h/t Bonnie Malkin of the Guardian), reported that players Alan Luciano Ruschel, Marcos Danilo Padilha and Jakson Ragnar Follmann survived the initial crash along with passengers Rafael Correa Gobbato and Ximena Suarez.

It was confirmed by a club spokesman that Danilo has died, per the Associated Press (h/t ABC News). 

According to Sky News, defender Helio Neto also survived the impact and is being treated in hospital for "severe trauma to his skull, thorax and lungs." On Sunday, TV Globo (h/t Mirror's Liam Prenderville) reported that "Neto is continuing his recovery in a Colombian hospital and reports in Brazil claim doctors are yet to inform the defender about the crash." Prenderville continued:

TV Globo report Neto, who remains in intensive care, has asked about the result of the match with Atletico Nacional.

It is claimed doctors have avoided discussing the subject on the recommendation of a psyhcologist.

A member of the Chapecoense staff suggested the player discovering the fate of his tragic teammate's would cause an emotional shock, leading to a detrimental impact on his recovery.

The club released the following statement on their Facebook page (h/t Malkin) on Nov. 29 before authorities had announced the number of survivors:

Given the conflicting reports emerging from different journalistic sources concerning the crash of the plane carrying the Chapecoense players, the Chapecoense football association through its 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.

They also posted the following clip of the players celebrating their progression to the Copa Sudamericana final, per Bleacher Report UK:

Video Play Button
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B/R Football @brfootball

.@ChapecoenseReal share video of reaching the Sudamericana final: ‘Let this be the last image of our warriors' https://t.co/5NQo1G4bn5

As reported by Jack de Menezes of The Independent, Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez called it "a tragedy of huge proportions" on Blu Radio.

Matheus Sarolithe son of club coach Caio Junior, who died in the crashrevealed in a statement on his Facebook page that he was supposed to board the flight but could not, as he had forgotten his passport, per Ed Malyon of the Mirror.

"We ask that we are given a little privacy, especially to my mother, and thank all of those sending messages," read the post, per Malyon. "I was in Sao Paulo today and didn't board the flight because I had forgotten my passport."

The BBC Breaking News Twitter feed posted the following image of the wreckage:

BBC Breaking News @BBCBreaking

Colombia plane crash: - 81 people on board including top Brazilian football team Chapecoense - 6 reported survivors https://t.co/yEGYqDGWTp https://t.co/J3owy2VNOO

The same account provided more images of the scene:

BBC Breaking News @BBCBreaking

First images of Colombia plane crash show football badge of Chapecoense team & crash debris https://t.co/yEGYqDpluP https://t.co/UrZ6W4fwTE

The Flightradar24 app traced the route of the plane before the crash:

Flightradar24 @flightradar24

Flightradar24 received last ADS-B signal from #LMI2933 at 15,500 feet - about 30 km from destination MDE airport located at ~7,000 feet. https://t.co/hGcyHc98EV

In a statement (h/t Malkin), the Jose Maria Cordova International Airport said the plane reported electrical flaws around 10 p.m. local time.

The airport said the crash site could be accessed only by land because of the weather, per ABC News' J.J. Gallagher. It's a terrain the AP has described as "mountainous," and Hugo Botero Lopez, the mayor of La Union, has stated that "getting the injured out is difficult because this is a very woody area," per El Tiempo (h/t Malkin). 

According to AFP, the plane was used by the Argentina national team a fortnight ago to fly them to a FIFA World Cup qualifying match.

Former Brazil captain and Barcelona forward Neymar posted his condolences on Twitter:

Neymar Jr @neymarjr

🙏👐 https://t.co/eafd50s4AM

Chapecoense were supposed to play on Wednesday in the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional. AFP confirmed the game has been suspended.

Atletico Nacional defender Gilberto Garcia has since confirmed the club has asked CONMEBOL to crown Chapecoense champions, per Malyon.

"It's something we want...It's an initiative of ours and I know the world of football too," Garcia said. "We hope that CONMEBOL makes this happen. We also want to send all our care and thoughts to the families."

Malyon also noted: "Other clubs from Brazil's top flight have requested that Chapecoense are immune from relegation for the next three seasons. They have also suggested that clubs should loan players to the stricken club free of charge for the 2017 campaign."

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