A plane transporting a Brazilian football team crashed in Colombia on Monday night, killing 76 of the 81 people on board.
Six people initially survived the crash, but one later died, according to Colombian authorities.
Among the deceased were members of Chapecoense, a Brazilian soccer team. The club was traveling to Medellin, Colombia to play in the Copa Sudamerica finals against Atletico Nacional, which had been scheduled for Wednesday.
“This is a very, very sad day for football,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino. “At this difficult time our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends. FIFA would like to extend its most heartfelt condolences to the fans of Chapecoense, the football community and media organizations concerned in Brazil.”
The football club had fought its way from the lower leagues to the top division in Brazil. Soccer commentators called Chapecoense’s rise to fame a Cinderella story.”
“The pain is terrible. Just as we had made it – I will not say to the top, but to have national prominence – a tragedy like this happens,” said Chapecoense vice-president Ivan Tozzo. “It is very difficult, a very great tragedy.”
The chartered plane took off from Viru Viru International Airport in Bolivia at around 6:18 p.m. local time, CNN reported. The crew onboard declared an emergency somewhere between La Ceja and La Union, according to air traffic controllers.
At the time of publication, the cause of the crash remains unknown, but the mountainous Medellin area, where the plane crashed, had experienced heavy rainfall and thunderstorms that night.