Plane carrying Copa Sudamericana finalist Chapecoense crashes in Colombia


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A plane carrying Brazilian club Chapecoense to the Copa Sudamericana final crashed in Colombia on Monday night, local authorities confirmed.

"A Lamia aircraft coming from Bolivia with registration CP2933 RJ 80 had an accident in Cerro El Gordo, nearby La Union, Antioquia, with 72 passengers and nine crew members on board, who were with the Brazilian team Chapecoense," read a statement from Colombian aviation governing body Aerocivil. "Organisations are currently attending to the situation and are taking injured to different medical facilities in the region."

According to South American media reports, emergency crews transported some of the injured to La Ceja Hospital shortly after the crash, while Telemedellin reported that the San Vicente Hospital was preparing to treat some of those wounded.

There were no deaths confirmed as of Tuesday morning, while various media organisations reported different counts of those taken to the hospital with injuries. A press release sent out by the Jose Maria Cordova airport said that authorities were working to rescue at least six survivors, while some media reports indicated that 10 people had been taken to hospitals for treatment.

"There are a lot of survivors," Kaleth Gutierrez, a local fire chief, told reporters. "We can't say how many but there are a lot."

Players Alan Ruschel and Danilo were the first survivors to arrive at the airport, according to reports from RCN and Telemedellin, with the latter reporting that Ruschel was conscious but in shock when he got to the hospital.

The plane was inbound from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where the team stopped over after playing a league game against Palmeiras, who clinched the Brazilian championship with a victory. Chapecoense made the Copa Sudamericana final after advancing past Argentine side San Lorenzo on away goals. The first leg was set to take place in Medellin against Atletico Nacional on Wednesday.

CONMEBOL confirmed that the match will be postponed.

"The South American Football Confederation confirms that it has been notified by Colombian authorities that the plane on which the Atletico Chapecoense of Brazil delegation suffered an accident on its arrival to Colombia. We're in contact with the authorities and we are awaiting for official updates," it told the press. "The CONMEBOL family enormously laments what has happened.

"All activities of the confederation will remain suspended until further notice.

"President Alejandro Dominguez is currently in transit to Medellin."

The cause of the crash is currently unverified but the airport confirmed that the plane reported an electrical fault to the control tower. According to the airport, the crash site is currently accessible only by ground transportation, with weather conditions prohibiting aerial access. A Colombian aviation community used its Facebook page to ask those in the area who could provide help in Jeep 4x4-type vehicles to assist in rescue efforts.

Tributes started to come in after the first reports, with Chapecoense's opponent, Atletico Nacional, tweeting: "Nacional deeply regrets and sympathizes with Chapecoense because of the accident that happens and awaits information from the authorities." Mexico FA president Decio de Maria wrote, "My prayers for the Chapecoense team and everybody who was aboard their aircraft. My support to their family and friends."