Seventy six people have been killed in a horror plane crash in Colombia involving a Brazilian first division football team.
Aviation authorities initially said there were at least six survivors, but police have since said one of them has since died. MailOnline said three Chapecoense players are among those to escape with their lives.
Brazilian TV channels Globonews and SporTV identified them as defender Alan Ruschel, goalkeeper Danilo Padilha and reserve goalkeeper Jakson Follmann.
The names of the survivors have not been officially confirmed.
In photos uploaded to Instagram before the crash Ruschel and Padilha look happy and relaxed as they announce they will soon be arriving in Colombia.
Ruschel says: “In not long, we’ll be arriving in Colombia. We’re coming Colombia.”
Jose Gerardo Acevedo, regional police commander told reporters: “Six people were rescued alive, but unfortunately one died. The rest of the occupants unfortunately died. The tragic toll is 76 victims.”
Brazilian news organisations reported 21 journalists had been on board the flight to Medellin airport, the Guardian reported, along with 22 Chapecoense players.
Rescue efforts have reportedly been suspended due to heavy rain.
Football players from across the world, including Wayne Rooney, have began paying their respects to those killed in the crash.
Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who plays for the Portuguese club Porto,wrote on Twitter. “My condolences on the crash of the plane carrying Chapecoense. A tough moment for football. Be strong and brave.”
“It’s a tragedy of huge proportions,” Medellin’s Mayor Federico Gutierrez Gutierrez told Blu Radio on his way to the crash site in a mountainous area outside the city.
The aircraft, which made a stop in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the first division Chapecoense football team from southern Brazil. The team was scheduled to play Wednesday in the first of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.
The team, from the small city of Chapeco, joined Brazil’s first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it to the Copa Sudamericana finals last week by defeating Argentina’s legendary San Lorenzo squad. They are currently in ninth place in the Brazilian competition.
The club wrote on Facebook following the tragedy: “Given the conflicting reports emerging from different journalistic sources concerning the crash of the plane carrying the Chapecoense players, the Chapecoense football association through it vice-president, Ivan Tozzo, is refraining from comment and awaiting official announcements from the Colombian air authorities.
The statement continued: “May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation.”
Aviation authorities said the aircraft, a British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane operated by a Bolivian charter airline named Lamia, declared an emergency at 10pm Monday (0300 GMT) due to an electrical failure.
Other reports suggest the cause of the crash remains unknown, however, Colombia has been experiencing heavy rain and thunderstorms.
Alfredo Bocanegra, the head of Colombia’s civil aviation authority, told Blu Radio that the plane was given priority to land but didn’t make the airport.
He said: “The plane reported an emergency on approach. It was given priority to land but then contact was lost.”
It is unclear why the plane failed to make the runway.
Authorities and rescuers were immediately activated but an air force helicopter had to turn back due to low visibility. They urged journalists to stay away from the hard-to-access zone and stay off the roads to facilitate the entry of ambulances and rescuers. The area has been hit by heavy rains in recent days.
South America’s football federation extended its condolences to the entire Chapecoense community and said its president, Luis Dominguez, was on his way to Medellin. All football activities were suspended until further notice, the organisation said.
Elkin Ospina, mayor of La Ceja, near where the crash took place, said the priority is searching for survivors and scores of rescuers working through the night had been heartened after pulling three passengers alive from the wreckage.
The plane was carrying 72 passengers and nine crew members, aviation authorities said in a statement. Local radio said the same aircraft transported Argentina’s national squad for a match earlier this month in Brazil.
A video published on Chapecoense’s Facebook page showed the team readying for the flight earlier Monday in Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos international airport.
Fans of the team on Tuesday wrote hopeful messages on the team’s Facebook page.
“Chapecoense plane crashed in antioquia. God our prayers with them, strength to their families and I hope they are all survivors, minimal consequences of this tragic accident,” one wrote.
South American football expert Tim Vickey on Tuesday described the Chapecoense team as “not a glamorous team, not a traditional team, but a team that have done wonderful things the last few years” despite only being in the first division for three seasons.
Vickery told the BBC of the plane crash: “Dreadful, dreadful news... an inspiring success story of a club that has got its set-up right off the field, beginning to enjoy success on the field, interrupted by tragedy in the most brutal manor.”