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Plane crashes in Colombia with 81 on board, including Brazilian footballers

(Last Updated On: November 29, 2016)

footballAn aircraft with 81 people aboard, including Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense and journalists covering their match, has crashed in central Colombia, officials and media reported, but heavy rain has halted rescue operations.

The mayor of La Ceja, a nearby town, said on local radio, citing firefighters, that at least 25 people had been killed and around 10 survivors had been rescued after the crash late on Monday, but few official figures were yet available.

Poor weather conditions initially made the crash site accessible only by road, airport authorities at Medellin, where the charter plane was scheduled to land, said on Twitter.

The airport later said rescue operations had been suspended because of heavy rain in the area.

Alfredo Bocanegra, the head of Colombia’s aviation authority, earlier told journalists at the airport that several people had been rescued. A hospital in La Ceja tweeted it was treating a survivor.

However, confusion and weather conditions means official figures from disaster management authorities on how many were killed may take some time to be confirmed.

“Fortunately we can report that two injured people have been transported to health centers in the area and around five people are being rescued for transport to hospitals.” Carlos Ivan Marquez, the director of national disaster management, said in a statement.

The Chapecoense team was among the 72 passengers and nine crew on board the charter aircraft when it crashed around 10:15 p.m. on Monday.

Photos of wreckage were tweeted by local media in Colombia, while Brazilian news organizations were reporting 21 journalists had also been aboard.

Flight tracking service Flightradar24 said on Twitter the last tracking signal from flight 2933 had been received when it was at 15,500 feet, about 30 km from its destination, which sits at an altitude of 7,000 feet.

The Avro RJ85 was produced by a company that is now part of UK’s BAE Systems (BAES.L)

“Tonight it was reported that a plane coming from Viru Viru airport in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, which should have landed at Jose Maria Cordova airport, had gone off course,” a Colombian rescue official, Mauricio Parodi, told reporters.

Chapecoense had been due to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first leg of Wednesday’s Sudamericana final, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League.

The club said in a statement that it would not be making any official comments until it had more information from Colombian authorities.

It was the first time the small club from Chapeco had reached the final of a major South American club competition but they were underdogs against a club going for a rare double after winning the Copa Libertadores in July.

Chapecoense were the 21st biggest club in Brazil in terms of revenue, bringing in 46 million reais ($13.5 million) in 2015, according to an annual rich list compiled by Brazilian bank Itau BBA.

The South American football federation suspended all games and other activities following the crash.

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