Brazilian goalkeeper and defender pulled from wreckage of plane that crashed with 81 people on board including Chapecoense side that had drawn comparisons with Leicester after fairytale season.
76 people, including players and staff of the Brazilian first division football team Chapecoense, have died when a plane crashed in remote Colombian mountains on Monday night. The team were on their way from Bolivia to Medellin International Airport ahead of the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final with Colombian side Atletico Nacional.
Few Survivors Of Plane Crash
It is understood that just five passengers – including two players – have survived, with defender Alan Ruschel and goalkeeper Jackson Follmann reported to be among those pulled alive from the wreckage. Another goalkeeper, Danilo, survived the crash but later died in hospital, according to local news reports.
The journalist Rafael Hensel and crew members Ximena Suarez and Erwin Tumiri also believed to have survived. The footballers had to change their flight and board the plane that crashed after Brazilian aviation authorities prevented them from taking a charter aircraft, it has been claimed.
Aeronautica Civil said in a statement that the plane had been carrying ’22 footballers, 28 companions and technical staff, 22 journalists and nine crew members’. The same plane carried the Argentina national team to a fixture in Brazil earlier this month and had also previously transported the Venezuela national side.
The first leg of the final, scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed, while the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) said it was suspending ‘all activities.’
The Brazilian football federation said it would wait to establish the full details of the plane crash before deciding whether to suspend the domestic league.
One round of fixtures remains in the Brazilian top-flight this coming weekend, with relegation places yet to be decided, while the second leg of the Cup final is scheduled to be played on Wednesday in the southern city of Porto Alegre. Local club Gremio defeated Atletico Mineiro 3-1 in the first leg in Belo Horizonte.
Chapecoense issued a short statement that read: ‘May God be with our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with our delegation.’
Stunned supporters of the team – who had enjoyed a fairytale rise through the divisions – gathered outside their stadium in Chapeco as they waited for news. The British Aerospace Avro RJ85 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline called LaMia declared an emergency at 10pm local time (3am UK time) on Monday night after suffering power failures while flying through the mountainous Antioquia Department. The Chapecoense striker Alejandro Martinuccio, who wasn’t in the squad for the trip, tweeted: ‘Pray for my companions please.’
FIFA President Infantino said on Twitter: ‘At this difficult time our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends.’The players and staff of Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid held a minute’s silence ahead of training sessions on Tuesday morning.
Premier League club Arsenal were among the many football clubs and footballers who posted tributes on social media after the crash. The Gunners wrote: ‘Thinking of you, @ChapecoenseReal’ #ForcaChapecoense’.
Liverpool tweeted: ‘Our thoughts are with everyone at @ChapecoenseReal and all those affected by the tragedy in Colombia.’
Real Madrid players observed a minute’s silence before training on Tuesday morning and players from around the world shared their condolences.
Atletico Madrid used Twitter to send its condolences to the victims’ relatives. One of Chapecoense’s players on the plane was midfielder Cleber Santana, who played for Atletico from 2007-10.
The Chelsea defender David Luiz penned a heartfelt tribute to his friend Arthur Maia. Both players spent much of their youth careers at Vitoria.
Luiz wrote: ‘Know that one day I had the pleasure to meet you and have you as a little brother. Then we lost contact for each one to follow his way and today wake up and know that you are no longer among us.
‘With this news that breaks hearts around the world. I can not believe it! May God comfort your family, friends and all the families involved!
‘I keep this image saved as I always had of a pure and dreamy boy! God bless you!! Praying for all! #RIP #ArthurMaia’
Brazilian striker Neymar simply tweeted the club badge and Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas said ‘Good luck and stay strong!’
The England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney tweeted: ‘Sad news to wake up to today. Thoughts are with @ChapecoenseReal and their family and friends.’
Former Germany captain Michael Ballack tweeted: ‘Very sad to read #RIP #Chapecoense Remember we are never safe and anything can happen, so make sure to tell your loved ones that you care.’
The Brazil and Liverpool player Lucas Leiva wrote: ‘God bless all these people that were in this terrible accident.’
Chelsea and Brazil star Willian said: ‘God have mercy on the people who are there and give strength to all their family members.’
Monaco and Colombia striker Radamel Falcao said: ‘My pray [sic] and solidarity for survivors, family and friends of @ChapecoenseReal in this sad time.’
United’s Andreas Pereira wrote: ‘What a horrible news!! Let’s pray for the players, friends and family of this horrible tragedy!! @ChapecoenseReal we are with you!’
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois tweeted: ‘My thoughts are with all members of @ChapecoenseReal and all their families! #PrayForChapecoense’
Elkin Ospina, the mayor of La Ceja, close to the crash site, said scores of rescuers were at the scene searching for survivors, though poor visibility forced an air force rescue helicopter to turn back. Heavy rainfall also disrupted the overnight rescue efforts.
A video published on the Chapecoense Facebook page showed the team members preparing to board the flight earlier on Monday at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport.
The modest team, from the small city of Chapeco, were enjoying a fairytale season. They had returned to the Brazilian top-flight in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it to the final of the Copa Sudamericana – the South American equivalent of the UEFA Europa League – by beating Argentina’s San Lorenzo last week.
The team’s vice-president Ivan Tozzo said the city was in tears following the news. He told cable channel SporTV: ‘We are very sad, gathered here in the locker room of our stadium. We are still waiting for news. All our board is there, our players. We have nothing concrete on their state.
‘There are a lot of people crying in our city, we could never imagine this. Chapecoense is the biggest reason for joy here. We hope there are many survivors, at least that most of them are OK.’
Article courtesy of Mail Online