Officials say the plane's so-called black boxes have been found
Official from Chapecoense says team's dream has ended
Brazil is mourning the deaths of dozens of its countrymen aboard a flight that crashed into the side of a mountain in Colombia.
Investigators are examining flight recorders retrieved from LAMIA Flight 2933 to determine what brought down the plane with 77 people late Monday night local time.
Players, coaches and invited guests from Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team were on board the charter flight. Seventy-one people were killed and six survived.
Colombia plane crash: Full coverage
On Wednesday, a remembrance will be held for the victims at the Atanasio Girardot Stadium in Medellin, Colombia, where Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team had been due to play Colombia’s Atletico Nacional team.
“Tomorrow in a symbol of solidarity, we will head to the stadium at 6:45 p wearing white and with candles for the victims,” the Medellin mayor’s office said in a Twitter post.
Among the victims were around 20 journalists on the way to cover what was supposed to be a heartwarming chapter in a Cinderella story for a team of unlikely champions. The soccer club, which has risen the ranks in Brazilian soccer and has a devoted national fan base, was set to play in the first leg of the South American Cup finals Wednesday.
On Tuesday, hundreds of heartbroken fans gathered at Arena Conda in the team’s hometown of Chapeco, Brazil, to mourn their loss.
Flags flew at half-staff at Brazil’s Planalto Palace.
The news sent shock waves through the sports world. The Liverpool Football Club paid tribute to the team before their Tuesday night game.
Jet may have run out of fuel
Investigators found the plane’s so-called black boxes Tuesday afternoon. The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder are in “perfect condition,” Colombia’s civil aviation authority said on Twitter.
As air safety officials begin their investigation, the final resting place of the jet’s wreckage may prove to be a central clue in determining why the airplane crashed.
The lack of apparent fire damage among the wreckage of the deadly crash of LAMIA flight 2933 is pointing investigators to consider fuel starvation as a contributing factor to Monday’s crash, said a person familiar with the early inquiry.
Chapecoense is sending a seven-person delegation of doctors and legal experts to Colombia.
“Only after their arrival will we be able to confirm the facts of this tragedy,” the team said on Twitter.
’We are praying for everyone’
Three soccer players, two crew members and one journalist survived, Colombian authorities said.
Among them: defender Alan Luciano Ruschel.
In an Instagram post, Ruschel’s wife said he was hospitalized in stable condition.
“We are praying for everyone who has not yet been rescued, and for their families,” Amanda Ruschel wrote. “It is a complicated and difficult situation. Only God can give us strength.”
The charter flight took off from Bolivia’s Viru Viru International Airport at 6:18 p.m. local time, according to air controller Manuel Palamas.
The plane declared an emergency between the municipalities of La Ceja and La Union, according to Colombian aviation officials. The crash occurred in an area called Cerro El Gordo near Medellin, officials said. The Red Cross said they arrived at the scene at 10:30 p.m.
Images of the crash show what appear to be damaged parts of the plane. Tattered debris emblazoned with the Chapecoense club’s logo was photographed at the crash site.
Weather and wind
Satellite images show that scattered showers and thunderstorms had moved across the region over the previous 12 hours – though no big storms were nearby, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.
Colombia plane crash: Full coverage
There likely would have been turbulence in the region due to intermittent thunderstorms and winds from around the mountains in the region, Guy said.
A statement from nearby Jose Maria Cordova airport said the accident site could only be accessed by land because of weather conditions.
The Colombian air force had to abort a mission to the accident site due to inclement weather, according to Colombian officials.
From Cinderella story to nightmare
Chapecoense was set to play the Colombian club team Atletico Nacional in the first leg of the South American Cup finals Wednesday.
The team, which is ninth in Brazil’s Serie A league, has surprised many with its performance in the tournament this year – ESPNFC billed its semifinal contest as a David versus Goliath match.
“It’s a Cinderella football story. They’ve only been in the top division in Brazil for the last couple of years, and they’ve reached the Copa Sudamericana final,” Keir Radnedge of World Soccer magazine told CNN. “What they have achieved in the last couple of years was just amazing.”
Chapecoense had dreamed of winning the prestigious cup, Plinio David de Nes Filho, the chairman of the team’s board, told Brazil’s TV Globo on Tuesday.
“The dream was over this morning,” he said, tearing up as he told the network of the last time he saw the players.
“Yesterday morning I was saying goodbye to them,” he said. “They told me they were going in search of the dream, to make this dream a reality.”
Six journalists from Fox Sports Brazil were among the 20 people aboard the aircraft on their way to cover the game, the network said.
“We express our solidarity and stand with the families of our colleagues from Fox Sports Brazil and of the players for the Chapecoense Club who perished in this tragedy,” Fox Sports said.
The lesser-known Chapecoense club was founded in 1973 and had steadily risen up the ranks in recent years.
Team officials liked to say that it succeeded due to good management and a strategic vision, said Plus55, a Brazilian news site.
“Few remembered the name of this forgotten team,” CONMEBOL, the governing body for soccer in South America, said of Chapecoense. “Now the whole continent knows it.”
The team, whose stadium wasn’t even big enough to host a final by CONMEBOL regulations, was vying to become the first Brazilian club to win the South American Cup final since 2008.
As word of the crash spread, Brazilian soccer great Pele was among the many athletes and fans expressing their condolences Tuesday.
“The Brazilian football family is in mourning,” he wrote on Twitter. “This is a tragedy. I send my condolences to the families of the deceased. Rest in peace.”
Fernando Ramos reported from Colombia, Marilia Brocchetto and Catherine E. Shoichet from Atlanta, Josh Berlinger from Hong Kong.