A Brazilian footballer pulled from the wreckage of the Colombian air disaster made a heartbreaking last telephone call to his wife moments before he died, it has emerged.

Chapecoense goalkeeper Danilo was one of just seven people initially found alive in the mangled remains of the jet which crashed down on its way from Bolivia to the city of Medellin.

The 31-year-old was rushed for treatment after the crash, which claimed more than 70 lives, and spoke to his wife from his hospital bed - only to die from his injuries a short time later. Weeks earlier he had posted a picture of himself next to his wife who he described as "my love".

Separate images show him posing for selfies with fellow footballer Alan Ruschel, 27, during the journey from Brazil with Ruschel, 27, telling fans: "We're coming Colombia."


Ruschel was pulled alive from the wreckage along with goalkeeper Jacson Follmann, defender Helio Hermito Zampier Neto and passengers Rafael Correa Gobbato and Ximena Suarez, officials said.

Rescuers have started the grim task of removing bodies from the crash site as it emerged the pilot circled in a desperate attempt to burn off fuel before attempting to land.

The chartered plane, carrying the Brazilian football team, crashed outside Medellin killing 76 and leaving just six survivors - three of them players.

Team members had posed together for a picture in Bolivia ahead of take-off as they were travelling to Colombia for the biggest game in the club's history, the Copa Sudamerica final. But their journey came to a devastating end when the jet smashed into a hill and broke in two in remote mountains at about 10.15pm.

The Avro RJ85 plane, which was carrying nine crew, suffered power failures while flying through the Antioquia Department on its way from Bolivia. The pilot is believed to have circled around before crash landing in a desperate bid to lose fuel and avoid an explosion on impact.

Read more: Sports mourn fatal flight of Brazilian team

Just 20 days ago, the same plane had transported the Argentinian football team, including megastars Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria, to Belo Horizonte in Brazil, where they played Brazil in a World Cup qualifier match.

Heartbreaking images have since emerged online showing devastated players who were not travelling with the Chapecoense squad sitting in the club's empty changing room. Brazil has since declared three days of mourning.

There are reports that the team had to change their flight at short notice and board the doomed aircraft after Brazilian aviation authorities prevented them from taking a charter plane direct from Sao Paulo to Medellin.

A video published on the Chapecoense Facebook page showed team members readying for their journey earlier on Monday in Sao Paulo's Guarulhos international airport. A team photograph then showed them preparing to board in Bolivia on the second leg of their journey.

The flight radar map shows LAMIA Bolivia RJ85, registration CP-2933 crashed near Medellin, Colombia.
The flight radar map shows LAMIA Bolivia RJ85, registration CP-2933 crashed near Medellin, Colombia.

The team, from the small city of Chapeco, was in the middle of a fairy tale season. It 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 in a brief statement on its Facebook page. The players looked happy and relaxed as they waited for permission to board.

The mayor of La Ceja, a nearby town, said on local radio, citing firefighters, that at least 25 people had been killed in the crash and about five survivors had been rescued - but few official figures were yet available.

Ambulances ferrying survivors to hospital can only get to within 30 minutes walk of the spot where the plane has crashed near the town of La Union, it has emerged.

Rescue workers stand at the wreckage site of a chartered airplane that crashed in a mountainous area outside Medellin, Colombia. Photo / AP
Rescue workers stand at the wreckage site of a chartered airplane that crashed in a mountainous area outside Medellin, Colombia. Photo / AP

Rescuers on foot are having to stretcher survivors through fog which prevents them from seeing more than a few feet in front of them, local radio reported. They are then put into lorries which drive them another 700 metres to the waiting ambulances.

The pilots and cabin crew on board the plane that crashed were all Bolivian while most of the passengers were Brazilian and about 40 were part of the Chapecoense delegation.

The club has posted this video of the team celebrating last week online, saying "Que essa seja a última imagem dos nosso guerreiros", which translates as "let this be the last image of our warriors".