World

Tributes to Colombian plane crash victims begin as work to stabilize survivors continues

From around the world, there is an outpouring of emotion and sorrow at the crash of a charter airplane carrying Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense to Medellín, Colombia, that has claimed 75 lives, which also included journalists and members of the flight crew.

Barcelona and Real Madrid held a minute of silence before their practice sessions on Tuesday in honor of the victims of the disaster, and Brazilian President Michel Temer is declaring three days of official mourning. He also said that planes from the country's Air Force have been made available for relatives of the victims to travel to Colombia and for the transfer of the bodies back to Brazil.

Doctors at several hospitals are working to stabilize the six survivors of the crash, all of whom suffered severe trauma injuries.

Hospital officials say Chapecoense defensive back Alan Ruschel appears to be in the most delicate condition. He's suffered a spinal fracture. Ruschel was stabilized at the San Juan de Díos hospital and transferred by ambulance to the intensive care unit of better-equipped facility, where he's awaiting surgery.

San Juan de Díos medical director Guillermo León said that the defender Hélio Zampier Neto – more frequently referred to as Neto – arrived shortly after dawn and is in stable condition with skull and chest injuries. A third player, Jakson Follmann, is at another facility and being evaluated for multiple unspecified injuries.

More On This...

Journalist Rafael Valmorbida is recovering from surgery for chest injuries, while Bolivian crew members Ximena Suárez and Erwin Tumiri are listed in stable condition and recovering.

"Carlos Ivan Márquez [Colombia's national disaster management director] has confirmed six survivors of the accident carrying #Chapecoense," Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos posted on his official Twitter account Tuesday morning. "We pray there may be even more." 

Early reports listed Chapecoense goalkeeper Danilo as having been rescued alive from the wreckage, but team spokesman Andrei Copetti confirmed his death to the Associated Press. 

Colombian aviation authorities say that among the 81 passengers were 21 journalists from several organizations, including Fox Sports Brazil and Globo, a large Brazilian conglomerate, and a handful of FM and AM radio stations in South America. 

Chapecoense was traveling on a chartered flight to play Colombian club Atletico Nacional in the Copa Sudamericana final when the plane crashed near Medellin. Nacional officials say it has asked the South American soccer confederation to award the title to Chapecoense in recognition of the team's great loss, and as a tribute to the players who died.

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 local time because of an electrical failure, aviation authorities said.

The plane had departed from Brazil on Monday afternoon, making a stopover at Viru Viru airport in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, and was headed to Medellín, where it reported an emergency due to electrical difficulties to the Aerocivil control tower.

Low visibility meant the crash site was only accessible by road, slowing emergency operations.

"What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into a tragedy," Medellín Mayor Federico Gutiérrez said.

EFE and AP contributed to this report.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on TwitterInstagram