THE TOP Brazilian football club wiped out on doomed Flight AMI2933 which crashed in Colombia changed planes at the last minute.
Seventy-six people were killed in what is the deadliest air disaster in the world this year.
Authorities said that a sixth survivor had been found at the crash site near La Ceja. However the number of survivors dropped to five again after a spokesman for Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense said that goalkeeper Marcos Danilo had died in hospital.
Brazil has declared three days of mourning for those killed.
The chartered plane was carrying 22 members of the professional football team Chapecoense, based in the city of Chapecó, Brazil, which was scheduled to play in the first leg of the 2016 Copa Sudamerica final against the Medellin professional football team Atlético Nacional on Wednesday (local time) in Medellin, the capital of Colombia’s mountainous Antioquia province.
There were also reported to be 22 football journalists from Brazil on the flight to cover Chapecoense’s fairtytale season and there were nine crew members on board.
It has not yet been become clear why the team changed flights at the last minute to board the doomed plane.
The survivors have been moved on stretchers from the crash site for a 30-minute walk down a mountain before being put on a lorry to waiting ambulances and then to hospital.
Chapecoense’s 27-year-old full-back Alan Ruschel, who is on loan from Brazilian club Internacional, was the first survivor to arrive at the hospital, reported Noticias Caraco.
Ruschel arrived at the hospital awake and talking. He was said to have multiple fractures, lacerations to the head as well as general head trauma.
Confirming he was rescued, Ruchel’s sister Alissen said on Twitter: “God is great and will look after you. Stay strong. You are a soldier.”
According to the local reports, when Ruschel came to the hospital he only had one thing on his mind: his family.
The footballer asked that someone take care of his wedding ring, while his only questions were not about his own health, but about his family.
The other survivors include reserve goalkeeper Jakson Follmann, female flight attendant Ximena Suárez and Brazilian journalist Rafael Henzel. The identity of the sixth survivor is unknown at this time.
Ruschel tweeted a picture of himself alongside Danilo on the plane as it left Bolivia and Henzel went to his Instagram page.
“The most important thing is to save the most lives,” said the mayor of Medellin, Federico Gutierrez.
Aviation authorities said the aircraft, a British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane operated by a Bolivian charter airline Lamia, declared an emergency between the municipalities of la Ceja and la Unión in Colombia at 10pm local time Monday due to an electrical failure. It is believed to have started its journey in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at 3.35pm local time and stopped in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, before taking off to Medellin, Colombia. The Chapecoense members had arrived in Bolivia from San Pablo.
The same plane took the Argentina football team including the world’s best player Lionel Messi to Brazil for the World Cup qualifying match earlier this month.
Founded in 1973, Chapecoenses was promoted to Brazil’s first division in 2014 and reached the final last week after a victory against Argentina’s San Lorenzo.
Elkin Ospina, mayor of La Ceja, near where the crash took place, said the priority is searching for survivors and scores of rescuers working through the night had been heartened after pulling three passengers alive from the wreckage. Authorities and rescuers were immediately activated but an air force helicopter had to turn back because of low visibility. Heavy rainfall is complicating the nighttime search and authorities urged journalists to stay off the roads to facilitate the entry of ambulances and rescuers.
Medellin’s Mayor Federico Gutierrez earlier said 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 local time.
South America’s football federation extended its condolences to the entire Chapecoense community and said its president, Luis Dominguez, was on his way to Medellin. All football activities were suspended until further notice, the organisation said in a statement.
José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro is the second largest airport in Colombia.
Luis Fernando Rodríguez, medical chief of the San Juan de Dios clinic in La Ceja, told mioriente.com: “We are trying to co-ordinate with other hospitals in the area to see what our capacity is given the complexity and the volume of patients who could arrive.”
Authorities have appealed for people to stay away from the crash site and allow rescue workers to move freely.
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