BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A chartered aircraft carrying a Brazilian soccer team to Colombia for a regional tournament final has crashed on its way to Medellin’s international airport, officials said Tuesday.
Medellin’s Mayor Federico Gutierrez said Tuesday that it is possible there are survivors.
“It’s a tragedy of huge proportions,” Gutierrez told Blu Radio on his way to the site in a mountainous area outside the city where the chartered aircraft is believed to have crashed shortly before midnight on Monday local time.
He said ambulances and rescuers were on their way. It is not clear what caused the crash of the aircraft, a British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, but Colombia had been hit by heavy rains and thunderstorms in recent hours.
The plane was reported to be carrying at least 72 people on board, although it was not known if that figure included the crew.
Medellin’s airport confirmed that the aircraft, which made a stop in Bolivia, was transporting the first division Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil. The team was scheduled to play Wednesday in the first of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.
A video published on the team’s Facebook page showed the team readying for the flight earlier Monday in Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos international airport.
The team, from the small city of Chapeco, joined Brazil’s first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it to the Copa Sudamericana finals last week by defeating Argentina’s legendary San Lorenzo squad.