Brazilian Serie A team, Chapecoense, involved in plane crash

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A plane carrying members of a Brazilian football team, Chapecoense, has crashed in Colombia, killing 76 people.

The charter aircraft, carrying 72 passengers and nine crew, is believed to have come down in a mountainous area outside Medellin at about 10.15pm local time.

It was later confirmed to be carrying members of the Brazil Serie A side, who were scheduled to play in the Copa Sudamerica finals against Atletico National in Medellin on Wednesday.

Access to the crash site has been difficult because of heavy rain, causing the rescue operation to be suspended in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Regional police commander, Jose Gerardo Acevedo, told reporters: “Six people were rescued alive, but unfortunately one died.

It has been confirmed that Chapecoense defender, 27-year-old Alan Ruschel, is one of the five survivors.

Concerning the player’s condition, a doctor said: “We still don’t have a final diagnosis

Alan Ruschel (right) has been confirmed as a survivor of the crash

“We are waiting for lab results and X-rays to make a decision and do a (surgical) procedure.”

Local media reported that goalkeeper Danilo and reserve goalkeeper Jakson Follmann had also survived.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the club said: “May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with our delegation.”

The plane had declared an emergency due to power failure before losing contact with the control tower. Colombia has been hit by heavy storms which are hampering rescue efforts.

Atletico Nacional has tweeted to express its sympathies. The South American football federation has suspended all games following the news from Colombia.

“The site of the accident is only accessible by land due to climatic conditions and low visibility,” a statement from the airport said.

“The Colombian Air Force deployed a search and rescue helicopter which had to cancel the mission due to the adverse conditions.

“According to the authorities the police are mobilising all possible help since they are reporting six survivors.”

The mayor of Medellin, Federico Gutierrez, said: “It’s a regrettable situation.

“I can confirm that this is the plane where the players were and right now we are following the events.

“We have the necessary team coming from Medellin – ambulances, medical staff – and the important thing here is to understand that there are survivors and we are saving lives.

“We are doing all we can in this very regrettable and sad situation.”

Who are Chapecoense?

Chapecoense were founded in 1973 in the city of Chapeco, in the state of Santa Caterina, southern Brazil.

They had recently broken into the top tier of Brazilian football and were preparing to play in their first final of South America’s major club competition.

The team went on to win the state championship within a few years, and would add a few more. But big-league football eluded them for a long time.

Then, in 2014, it entered Brazil’s first division, the Serie A, for the first time since the 1970s, and this year it made the finals of the Copa Sudamericana – South America’s equivalent of the Europa League.