At least 71 people were killed when a plane carrying members of a Brazilian soccer team crashed late Monday near Medellin, Colombia. The death toll was lowered from earlier reports of at least 76.
Among the six survivors on the plane were three members of the Chapecoense soccer team, at least two of them with substantial injuries; a journalist, and two members of the flight crew.
Brazilian goalkeeper Marcos Danilo Padilha initially survived the crash, but “died while being transferred” to a hospital, officials said.
Doctors had to amputate the leg of reserve goalkeeper Jackson Follman, while defender Helio Neto suffered cranial injuries. Defender Alan Ruschel was the other survivor. A doctor said he underwent surgery and then was transferred to another hospital for further examination.
The plane, owned by the small Venezuelan airline LaMia, had left Bolivia for Medellin, where the team was to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana tournament.
Rescue efforts were hindered by difficulty reaching the mountainous crash site and low visibility.
Alfredo Bocanegra, head of Columbia’s civil aviation agency, said authorities could not rule out the possibility that the plane ran out of fuel before it crashed, but the main focus of the investigation was on a possible electrical failure.
Chapecoense board member Plinio De Nes said a crisis center had been set up at the team’s headquarters for relatives and friends.
“[Players] told me they were going after this dream, to make the dream turn into reality. We were very moved and shared a lot of this dream with them. The dream is now over,” he told reporters.
The Colombian football squad Atletico National said it was also waiting for more information and offered support to the Brazilian team, adding that Chapecoense should win the title “as an honorary trophy for its great loss.”
Also on board were more than 20 journalists who were going to cover the Copa Sudamericana soccer match on Wednesday.
Members of the press were from several organizations, including Fox Sports Brazil and Globo, a large Brazilian conglomerate, and a variety of FM and AM radio stations in South America.
On Twitter, Chapecoense’s rival called for fans to dress in white and attend a candlelight vigil at the city’s soccer stadium to honor the people who died in the plane crash.
Brazilian President Michael Temer said authorities were mobilizing to help the team and families of the victims. He said the government “will do everything possible to alleviate the pain” of the family members of the players and the journalists who died in the crash.
The crash prompted the South American soccer federation to cancel all activities until further notice.
Condolence messages poured in through social media from many international teams and well-known players.
Brazilian soccer legend Pele said on Twitter that Brazilian football was in mourning.
“It is such a tragic loss. My sincere condolences to the families of the deceased. Rest in peace,” he wrote.
English soccer team Manchester United expressed grief and offered condolences. Real Madrid’s squad stopped a training to hold a minute of silence.
On Facebook, Argentina’s Diego Maradona offered condolences to the families.
The Rio headquarters of the Brazilian Football Association flew flags at half-staff on Tuesday and halted all games in the Brazilian soccer calendar for the next seven days.
The mayor of the southern Brazilian city of Chapeco, home of the ill-fated soccer team, said he and other officials barely missed boarding the plane that crashed. Instead, they took a commercial flight.
The team joined Brazil’s first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s.