Brazilian footballers from Chapecoense among survivors pulled from wreckage of plane crash in Colombia

Emergency services near Medellin Internaional Airport in Colombia. Photo /Aviacion Comercial en Colombia
Emergency services near Medellin Internaional Airport in Colombia. Photo /Aviacion Comercial en Colombia

A plane carrying 72 passengers - including a top Brazilian football team forced to change flights at the last minute - has crashed in remote Colombian mountains.

Reports last night indicated that at least six people survived.

Brazilian side Chapecoense were on their way from Bolivia to Medellin International Airport in Colombia to play in the Copa Sudamerica final when the plane came down.

The footballers changed to the doomed plane after Brazilian officials prevented them from taking a charter flight, it has been claimed.

Defender Alan Ruschel, 27, and goalkeepers Jakson Follmann and Danilo were reported to be among survivors from the crash after being pulled alive from the wreckage.

Medical staff from the San Juan de Dios hospital transfer 27-year-old Brazilian soccer player Alan Ruschel as he arrives to La Ceja in Colombia. Photo / EPA
Medical staff from the San Juan de Dios hospital transfer 27-year-old Brazilian soccer player Alan Ruschel as he arrives to La Ceja in Colombia. Photo / EPA

The plane, which had nine crew, crashed about 10.15pm local time after suffering power failures while flying through the mountainous Antioquia Department. Local officials said it crashed against a hill and broke in two.

A video on the Chapecoense Facebook page showed team members readying for the flight in Sao Paulo's Guarulhos airport.

The team, from the small city of Chapeco, were in the middle of a fairytale season.

They joined Brazil's first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it last week to the Copa Sudamericana finals - the equivalent of the UEFA Europa League tournament - after defeating Argentina's San Lorenzo.

"May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with our delegation," the club said on its Facebook page.

The players looked happy and relaxed as they waited to board.

Ambulances which took survivors to hospital could only get to within 30 minutes' walk of the crash site.

The wreckage of a plane near Medellin International Airport. Photo via Twitter
The wreckage of a plane near Medellin International Airport. Photo via Twitter

Stretcher crews had to carry survivors through fog to the rescue vehicles. One survivor was shown on a stretcher breathing with a mask.

The plane was flying from Viru Viru airport in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and should have landed at Jose Maria Cordova in Colombia.

A Colombian rescue official, Mauricio Parodi, said rescue teams, from firefighters to disaster management officials, had been pressed into the search for survivors.

Medellin's Mayor, Federico Gutierrez, said: "It's a tragedy of huge proportions."

Chapecoense were set to play Colombian team Atletico Nacional in the South American club tournament's final tomorrow, with the return fixture in Brazil on December 7.

It was the first time the small club had ever 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.

The South American soccer federation has cancelled all activities until further notice.
Its president, Alejandro Dominguez, is on his way to Medellin.

Atletico Nacional had said on Twitter: "National deeply regret and sympathise with @ChapecoenseReal for the accident."

- Agencies

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