Chapecoense, a small team from southern Brazil, was one of the more positive stories in Brazilian football this season. Thanks to a responsible administration, it broke the pattern of insolvent teams begging for government bailouts. The strategy paid off, as the team qualified for the Copa Sudamericana final, against Colombia’s Atletico Nacional. On Tuesday, however, tragedy struck the team. The plane carrying Chapecoense crashed when approaching Medellín.
According to initial reports, 71 people died, though the number is not yet official.
At least 22 players were onboard the flight run by the Bolivian company Lamia. Twenty-two journalists from Fox TV, Globo, and local stations were among the passengers. Colombia’s civil aviation authority has given the names of five survivors, including three players.
The 17-year-old Lamia’s Avro Regional Jet 85 carried 81 people. The Brazilian FA has confirmed that one of its vice-presidents, Delfim Peixoto, was on board. Chapecoense had already used the aircraft on other trips.
Chapecoense’s VP Ivan Tozzo has said, as a result of multiple contradictory reports by the media, the team will not release an official statement until Colombia’s authorities have spoken.
According to an AFP report, Ekin Ospina, mayor of the city of La Ceja, said that “the plane apparently ran out of fuel.” Information from FlightRadar shows that the aircraft has kept the expected route until approaching José Maria Córdoba Airport. At 2:55 am (local time), the plane was flying at 142 knots – landing speed. Until the analysis of the plane’s black box, it will be impossible to speculate on the causes of the crash.