For Brazilian soccer’s Cinderella team, there is no happy ending. The Chapecoense’s fairytale season is over after their charter plane went down in bad weather in the Andes Mountains over Colombia. Seventy-one people died, reports CBS News correspondent Josh Elliott.
Six people survived the Monday night crash, including three players: Alan Ruschel, Helio Neto and goalie Jackson Follmann, whose right leg had to be amputated. Follmann’s father told the Associated Press: “We have not spoken to him or received any other information regarding how serious his condition is. That is making us feel anguished.”
“To lose all of them in such a tragic way totally destroyed the city and each one of us,” Chapecoense fan Carla Vilembrini said.
The team, heading to the finals of the South American cup, was aboard a BAE 146, operated by the charter company LaMia. The team’s athletic director, Mauro Stumpf, said prior to takeoff they had previously worked with LaMia and were treated well.
The charter was flying from Bolivia to their match in Colombia, a nearly 1,900-mile trip close to the limit of the plane’s range.
Authorities have recovered the black boxes at the accident site outside Medellin. There were reports the plane may have suffered electrical failure or run out of fuel.
The father of a team member who was not on the flight said, “It’s a disaster. There are no words to explain it.”
The Chapes, as they were affectionately called, played in obscurity for decades. In 2014, they were promoted to Brazil’s top soccer division. There were no big stars, but with each match, the underdog’s following grew.
Last week, the Chapes celebrated their unlikely berth in the finals of the second most important club tournament on the continent.
“Not just Brazil, but all of South America is mourning and just grieving this. … It’s a story that doesn’t come along that often, and to have it end the way it did is really just horrifically sad,” USA Today Sports columnist Nancy Armour said.
Their opponent said the Chapes should be named South American Cup champions. In a gesture of solidarity, other Brazilian teams have offered to help them rebuild by loaning out their own players. Last night Pope Francis also sent his condolences to all those who are mourning the tragedy.