Seventy-six people died when a chartered plane carrying members of a Brazilian soccer club crashed on the outskirts of Medellín, Colombia, the authorities said early Tuesday.
Five of the 81 people onboard survived, according to Brig. Gen. José Gerardo Acevedo, the police commander for the area surrounding Medellín, news agencies reported.
Colombia’s civil aviation agency said the flight was operated by a small airline, LaMia, and was carrying members of the Chapecoense de Brasil soccer club.
The team was traveling from Bolivia to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana tournament when the plane crashed around 10 p.m. on Monday.
The aircraft was carrying 72 passengers and nine crew members, according to a statement issued by the Medellín airport. Search and rescue efforts were hampered by low visibility and difficulty in reaching the site.
The authorities said the plane had reported electrical problems as it flew near the towns of La Ceja and La Unión, in mountainous stretches around Medellín.
The South American Football Confederation said it had suspended the Copa Sudamericana, and the group’s president is heading to Medellín.
The Colombian station Blu Radio, citing an interview it conducted with Alfredo Bocanegra, Colombia’s civil aviation director, said the plane had declared an emergency as it approached Medellín. The plane was given priority to land before air traffic controllers lost contact with it.
Federico Gutiérrez, the mayor of Medellín, told Blu Radio that “emergency support, with firefighters, ambulances and the hospital network,” had been activated.
The civilian aviation authority said in a post on Facebook that six people had been rescued — three players, two crew members and a journalist who was accompanying the team. One of the survivors subsequently died, General Acevedo said, but it was not clear who.
Members of Chapecoense, a soccer club from the southern Brazilian city of Chapecó, were flying to Colombia for the first match of a two-leg final in the Copa Sudamericana, a second-tier championship for South American clubs.