This morning Brazil woke up to devastating news. A plane carrying the country’s Chapecoense soccer team crashed just south of Medellin, Colombia. According to Colombian authorities, 76 were killed, and there are 5 survivors.
As the morning wore on, Brazil was engaged in a heartbreakingly gruesome task: tracking which players’ bodies had been found, and which were dead. And as daylight broke across Colombia, the first images of the wreckage – a mangled pile of white metal – made clear that the five survivors had managed a miracle.
The President of Brazil, Michel Temer, declared 3 days of mourning, as the country grapples with what will go down in the country’s history as one of the most awful sports tragedies of all time, following in the sad steps of the death of racecar drive Airton Senna, which Brazilians still mourn.
For American readers, though, what happened today is positioned to be eerily similar in scale and cultural impact to the plane crash of the Marshall University football team in 1970. That accident is considered the deadliest tragedy affecting a sports team in American history.
In that accident, the team plane of a small West Virginia university crashed upon approach to the runway, killing 75 people – a number that is strikingly similar to the number reported dead in today’s crash.
The Marshall University plane was full of players and coaches, but it was also full of team boosters; the flight was the first flight the team had taken that season, since they normally traveled by bus. As a result, many fans joined the journey that day.
What really happened?
The charter flight took off from Bolivia’s Viru Viru International Airport at 6:18 p.m. local time, according to air controller Manuel Palamas.
The plane declared an emergency between the municipalities of La Ceja and La Union, according to Colombian aviation officials. The crash occurred in an area called Cerro El Gordo near Medellin, officials said.
See More Photos Below