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December, 8, 2016

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75 die after Brazilian soccer team's plane crashes

MEDELLIN, Colombia--A chartered plane carrying a Brazilian first division soccer team crashed outside Medellin while on its way to the finals of a regional tournament, killing 75 people, Colombian officials said Tuesday.

The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline named LaMia, declared an emergency and lost radar contact just before 10 p.m. Monday (0300 GMT) because of an electrical failure, aviation authorities said.

The aircraft, which had departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil for the first leg Wednesday of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.

Celebration Became Tragedy

"What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into a tragedy," Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez said from the search and rescue command center.

The club said in a brief statement on its Facebook page that "may God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation."

South America's soccer federation extended its condolences to the entire Chapecoense community and said its president, Alejandro Dominguez, was on his way to Medellin. All soccer activities were suspended until further notice, the organization said in a statement.

Dozens of rescuers working through the night were initially heartened after pulling three passengers alive from the wreckage. But as the hours passed, and heavy rainfall and low visibility grounded helicopters and complicated efforts to reach the mountainside crash site, the mood soured to the point that authorities had to freeze until dusk what was by then a body recovery operation.

Images broadcast on local television showed three passengers arriving to a local hospital in ambulances on stretchers and covered in blankets connected to an IV. Among the survivors was a Chapecoense defender named Alan Ruschel, who doctors said suffered spinal injuries. Two goalkeepers, Danilo and Jackson Follmann, as well as a member of the team's delegation and a Bolivian flight attendant, were found alive in the wreckage.

But Danilo later died while receiving hospital treatment, team spokesman Andrei Copetti told The Associated Press.

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