As a good season came to end for the professional Brazilian soccer team the Chapecoense, their plane crashed in Colombia leaving 71 out of the 77 people onboard dead.
As Colombian investigators tried Tuesday to pin down the cause and retrieve the bodies, Brazilian President Michel Temer declared three days of national mourning and his countrymen braced for a series of wrenching funerals.
The plane crashed around 10 p.m. ET while on its way from Santa Cruz in Bolivia to Medellin’s international airport.
Operated by LaMia, the plane was about 18 miles from its destination when for reasons still unknown it went down in a mountainous jungle area.
Investigators were also checking reported claims by a cabin crew member who said the plane had run out of fuel. And they were seeking Portuguese translators so they could communicate with the families of the victims.
The six survivors were identified as soccer players Alan Ruschel (shown in above picture), Jackson Ragnar Follmann and Hélio Hermito Zampier, flight attendant Ximena Suarez, aircraft mechanic Erwin Tumiri, and journalist Rafael Henzel Valmorbida.
A doctor told Colombian TV that Ruschel was being operated on after suffering multiple injuries to his limbs and a lumbar spine fracture. The 27-year-old defender was later confirmed to be in an intensive care unit.
Suarez was listed in stable condition while Tumiri suffered non-life threatening injuries, hospital officials said. The other survivors’ conditions were unclear.
Marcos Danilo Padilha (shown below), a 31-year-old goalkeeper with the club, was pulled from the wreckage alive but later died of his injuries.
Chapecoense had played for years in Brazil’s lower leagues before breaking out in 2014 and making it into the soccer-mad country’s top Serie A league.
They were considered the underdogs.
“The Brazilian soccer family is mourning,” Brazilian soccer legend Pele said in a statement. “This is a tragedy.”