Police confirm 76 dead in Chapecoense plane crash

Local authorities have announced a heavy loss of life after a plane carrying Copa Sudamericana finalists Chapecoense crashed.

Medellin police have confirmed 76 people died when a plane carrying Brazilian football club Chapecoense crashed in Colombia.

The Serie A side were scheduled to play the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional at Medellin's Estadio Atanasio Girardot on Wednesday.

But the plane, carrying 72 passengers and nine crew, crashed en route from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, coming down in Cerro Gordo in the municipality of La Union.

Authorities reported the plane declared an emergency at 22:00 local time (03:00 GMT) with apparent power failures.

Medellin police official Jose Acevedo has been widely quoted as confirming 76 people were killed. Defender Alan Ruschel is believed to be among five survivors. 

In a post on the club's official Facebook page, Chapecoense said: "Given the conflicting reports emerging from different journalistic sources concerning the crash of the plane carrying the Chapecoense players, the Chapecoense football association through it vice-president, Ivan Tozzo, is refraining from comment and awaiting official announcements from the Colombian air authorities.

"May God be with our athletes, leaders, journalists and the other guests who are with the delegation."

CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation, has suspended "all activities" until further notice.

In a statement, the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) said: "CBF expresses its dismay at the news coming from Colombia, reporting an accident with the plane carrying the Chapecoense delegation, journalists and guests, on their way to the first game of the South American Cup final.

"We are in contact with CONMEBOL, local authorities and representatives of the clubs in search of more information, before any possible measures regarding the progress of Brazilian football.

"We express our solidarity and we direct our prayers to the passengers and crew of the flight."