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A plane carrying a Brazilian soccer team heading for the biggest game in its history crashed overnight on November 29th in Colombia, killing 75 of the 81 people aboard.

Colombian authorities said that three players with Chapecoense, a team from Brazil’s top league, were among the survivors. Two crew members and a reporter also survived. 

The charter plane was carrying 72 passengers and nine crew when it left Viru Viru airport in Santa Cruz. It crashed on approach to José Maria Cordova International Airport in Rionegro, about 24 kilometres from the city of Medellin.

The plane went down in a mountainous rural area outside Medellin, where rugged terrain and heavy rains hampered rescue operations. News showed photos of twisted wreckage and hospital staff awaiting patients.

“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 team was en route to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first leg of Wednesday’s Sudamericana final, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League.  The small club from Chapeco had reached its first final of a major South American club competition. 

 On Twitter, the soccer club posted a short video of the team singing and chanting happily in a locker-room, apparently celebrating a recent win. 

“Let this be the last image of our warriors,” the club said in Portuguese. 

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