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76 dead as plane carrying Brazilian footballers crashes in Colombia

COLOMBIA: The death toll from the crash in Colombia of an airliner carrying 81 people, including a Brazilian football team, rose to 76 Tuesday as officials said only five people survived the disaster.

“Six people were rescued alive, but unfortunately one died. The rest of the occupants unfortunately died. The tragic toll is 76 victims,” Jose Gerardo Acevedo, regional police commander, told journalists.

Jose Maria Cordova de Rionegro airport, which serves Medellin said in a statement, “all possible aid was being mobilised” after reports of at least six survivors came in.

“It appears that the plane ran out of fuel,” Elkin Ospina, the mayor of the nearby town of La Ceja, told AFP.

He said authorities were on the scene and hospitals and medical centres were preparing to receive the injured.

The plane crashed late Monday near the Colombian city of Medellin, officials said. The LaMia aircraft was flying from Bolivia to Medellin when it crashed in an area called Cerro Gordo about 50 kilometres from the city, Colombia’s second largest.

The Jose Maria Cordova de Rionegro airport also confirmed that among the 72 passengers and nine crew were members of Chapecoense Real, a Brazilian football club that was supposed to play against Colombia’s Atletico Nacional Wednesday in the South American Cup finals.

“Confirmed, the aircraft license number CP2933 was carrying the team @ChapecoenseReal. Apparently there are survivors,” the Jose Maria Cordova de Rionegro airport said on its Twitter account.

On its Twitter account, the Medellin airport said the crash site could only be reached overland because of bad weather in the area.

Colombia’s civil aeronautics agency said it had a team at the airport in response to the crash.

Chapecoense, from Brazil’s top league, had been flying in to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first leg of Wednesday’s Sudamericana final, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League.

The club said in a statement that it would not be making any official comments until it had more information from Colombian authorities about Monday night’s crash. Brazilian media reported that three players were among the survivors.

It was the first time the small club from Chapeco had reached the final of a major South American club competition but they were underdogs against a club going for a rare double after winning the Copa Libertadores in July.

Chapecoense were the 21st biggest club in Brazil in terms of revenue, bringing in 46 million reais ($13.5 million) in 2015, according to an annual rich list compiled by Brazilian bank Itau BBA.

The South American football federation suspended all games and other activities following the crash.

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