A plane carrying 81 people, including a top Brazilian football team, has crashed on its approach to the city of Medellin in Colombia.
Police say five people survived the crash but the rest of those on board died.
The chartered aircraft, flying from Brazil via Bolivia, was carrying members of the Chapecoense team.
The team was due to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana, against Medellin team Atletico Nacional.
The first leg of the final of the cup, South America’s second most important club competition, was scheduled for Wednesday, but has now been suspended.
The match was seen as the biggest in the history of the relatively small club, which entered Brazil’s top division for the first time in 2014.
The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) said it was suspending “all activities”.
Chapecoense issued a brief statement saying: “May God be with our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with our delegation.”
The footballers had to change their flight and board the plane that crashed after Brazilian aviation authorities prevented them from taking a charter aircraft, it has been claimed.
Aeronautica Civil said in a statement that the plane had been carrying ’22 footballers, 28 companions and technical staff, 22 journalists and nine crew members’.
The same plane carried the Argentina national team to a fixture in Brazil earlier this month and had also previously transported the Venezuela national side.
The first leg of the final, scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed, while the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) said it was suspending ‘all activities.’
The Brazilian football federation said it would wait to establish the full details of the plane crash before deciding whether to suspend the domestic league.
One round of fixtures remains in the Brazilian top-flight this coming weekend, with relegation places yet to be decided, while the second leg of the Cup final is scheduled to be played on Wednesday in the southern city of Porto Alegre. Local club Gremio defeated Atletico Mineiro 3-1 in the first leg in Belo Horizonte.
Chapecoense issued a short statement that read: ‘May God be with our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with our delegation.’
The British Aerospace Avro RJ85 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline called LaMia and carrying 72 passengers and nine crew, declared an emergency at 10pm local time (3am UK time) on Monday night after suffering power failures while flying through the mountainous Antioquia Department.
Premier League club Arsenal were among the many football clubs and footballers who posted tributes on social media after the crash. The Gunners wrote: ‘Thinking of you, @ChapecoenseReal’ #ForcaChapecoense’
Liverpool tweeted: ‘Our thoughts are with everyone at @ChapecoenseReal and all those affected by the tragedy in Colombia.’
Players also took to social media to post messages of support for the team. The Brazil and Liverpool player Lucas Leiva wrote: ‘God bless all these people that were in this terrible accident.’
Chelsea and Brazil star Willian said: ‘God have mercy on the people who are there and give strength to all their family members.’
Monaco and Colombia striker Radamel Falcao said: ‘My pray [sic] and solidarity for survivors, family and friends of @ChapecoenseReal in this sad time.’
The England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney tweeted: ‘Sad news to wake up to today. Thoughts are with @ChapecoenseReal and their family and friends.’
United’s Andreas Pereira wrote: ‘What a horrible news!! Let’s pray for the players, friends and family of this horrible tragedy!! @ChapecoenseReal we are with you!’
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois tweeted: ‘My thoughts are with all members of @ChapecoenseReal and all their families! #PrayForChapecoense’
Elkin Ospina, the mayor of La Ceja, close to the crash site, said scores of rescuers were at the scene searching for survivors, though poor visibility forced an air force rescue helicopter to turn back. Heavy rainfall also disrupted the overnight rescue efforts.
Medical staff from the San Juan de Dios hospital transfer 27-year-old Brazilian footballer Alan Ruschel after he as pulled alive from the wreckage of the crash
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