BOGOTA, Colombia (CBSDFW.COM/CBS NEWS) – A chartered plane with a Brazilian first division soccer team crashed near Medellin while on its way to the finals of a regional tournament, killing 71 people, Colombian officials said Tuesday. Six people survived.
The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline named LaMia, declared an emergency at 9 p.m. Monday (CST) because of an electrical failure, aviation authorities said.
The aircraft, which had departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the Chapecoense soccer team to Medellin’s Jose Maria Cordova airport.
The team, from southern Brazil and which had started its journey in Sao Paulo, was scheduled to play Wednesday in the first of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the team switched planes in Bolivia or just made a stopover with the same plane.
“What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into a tragedy,” Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez said from the search and rescue command center.
The North Texas Major League Soccer Team FC Dallas only lists one player, Getterson Alves dos Santos, as being from Brazil. FC Dallas signed the Brazilian forward in July of this year. No word on if Getterson knew or played against any of the players on the doomed flight.
The club said in a brief statement on its Facebook page that “may God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation.”
Brazil as well as South America’s soccer federation extended its condolences to the entire Chapecoense community and said its president, Luis Dominguez, was on his way to Medellin. All soccer activities were suspended until further notice, the organization said in a statement.
Some of Brazil’s top clubs say they want to give players to Chapecoense on a free loan for the 2017 season. They also say the club should not be relegated to the second division for three years as it recovers from the disaster.
Details of how this would work financially were not immediately floated.
In further homage, Brazilian champion Palmeiras has made a request to the Brazilian Football Confederation to wear Chapecoense’s jersey in its last match of the season.
FC Dallas is a major player in the world of soccer. In 2015 the team partnered with the U.S. Soccer Federation, the City of Frisco and the Frisco Independent School District to build the new National Soccer Hall of Fame Museum.
The yet to be completed 24,000-square-foot museum will become home to memorabilia and trophies such as the Women’s World Cup, Gold Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophies.
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