Achartered plane with a Brazilian first division football team crashed near Medellin while on its way to the finals of a regional tournament, killing 71 people, Colombian officials said. Six people survived.
The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline named LaMia, declared an emergency and lost radar contact just before 10pm on Monday (0300 GMT) because of an electrical failure, aviation authorities said.
The aircraft, which had departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the Chapecoense team from southern Brazil for the first leg of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin, which was due to be played on Wednesday.
“What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into a tragedy,” Medellin mayor Federico Gutierrez said from the search and rescue command centre.
The club said in a brief statement on its Facebook page that “may God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with our delegation”.
Dozens of rescuers working through the night were initially heartened after pulling three passengers alive from the wreckage.
But as the hours passed, and heavy rainfall and low visibility grounded helicopters and complicated efforts to reach the mountainside crash site, the mood soured to the point that authorities had to freeze until dusk what was by then a body recovery operation.