BOGOTA, Colombia (CBSNewYork/AP) — Colombia’s civil aviation agency now says at least six people survived the plane crash that killed 71 people, including many members of a Brazilian soccer team.
The chartered aircraft with 77 people on board crashed on its way to Medellin’s international airport around 10 p.m. Monday local time.
In a statement, the agency said at least three Chapecoence players, two plane crew members and one journalist survived Monday’s crash near the city of Medellin.
Reports about the number of survivors have varied because of confusion amid the emergency.
The team from Brazil’s top league was in the middle of what was described as a fairy tale season and was heading to Colombia for a regional tournament final for the first time in more than three decades. The team took a video shortly before taking off.
The charter flight was made up largely of team members and staff and more than 20 journalists covering them.
An injury likely saved the life of one player, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported Tuesday night. Forward Alejandro Martinuccio wasn’t able to play, so he wasn’t on the plane.
“I was saved because I got injured,” he told one radio station.
Local Brazilians reacted to the news in a Brazilian enclave of Newark on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be a sad day in Brazil,” one resident said.
Soccer legend Pele also tweeted, saying, “Brazilian football is in mourning. It is such a tragic loss.”
Carl Worswick is a sports reporter who covers South American soccer.
“To be torn down from that perch, after all they’ve done, it’s harrowing, it’s heartbreaking,” he said. “I think it’s gonna take a long time for football to digest. ”
Brazilian President Michel Temer declared three days of official mourning for the victims. He also said Brazilian Air Force planes have been made available for relatives of the victims to travel to Colombia and for the transfer of the bodies to Brazil.
The soccer club issued a brief statement on its Facebook page, saying, “may God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation.”
The team said it would refrain from any further statements until it had fully evaluated the extent of the crash.
Aviation authorities said the charter plane declared an emergency and lost radar contact due to an electrical failure.
The director of civil aeronautics of Bolivia said the plane was deemed air-worthy and met all the required rules before take off.
Amidst heavy rain, armed forces and specialized police units recovered bodies, along with the two flight recorders.
The investigation into what caused the crash is ongoing.
Other sports teams have been involved in fatal plane crashes in the past, including the November 1970 crash in West Virginia that killed 36 players of the Marshall University football team.
The most recent was the September 2011 crash that killed 27 players, two coaches and seven club officials of the Russian hockey team Lokomotiv in Tunoshna, Russia.
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