UPDATE (6:40 p.m. ET): Officials now say that 71 of the 77 passengers have died in a tragic plane crash Monday night near Medellín, Colombia. Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense was on the plane.
ORIGINAL STORY: A horrific tragedy struck the sports world late Monday night when a chartered plane carrying 81 people crashed just outside Medellín, Colombia, killing all but five on board.
The plane was carrying the Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense, which plays in the country’s “Serie A” first division. Chapecoense had just advanced to the finals of the Copa Sudamericana — South America’s second-biggest club competition outside Copa Libertadores — and was flying from Bolivia to play in the tournament’s final against Atletico Nacional.
“What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into a tragedy,” Medellín mayor Federico Gutierrez said in a statement, via The Associated Press.
The plane, operated by a small airline company named LaMia, declared an emergency and lost radar contact shortly before 10 p.m. local time Monday due to an electrical failure, according to aviation authorities.
Rescue workers were hampered by heavy rainfall and poor visibility but managed to locate five survivors, which included three Chapecoense players, a member of the team’s delegation and a flight attendant. The other 76 passengers died.
Copa Sudamericana has been suspended until further notice, and Chapecoenese released a brief statement on its Facebook page Tuesday morning.
“May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation,” the statement read.
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images