Brazil has entered a three-day period of national mourning to pay tribute to the victims of a deadly plane crash in Colombia.
Members of Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense were aboard a charter flight en route to the city of Medellín on Monday night to play a highly anticipated game of a major South American club competition when their plane careened into the mountains due to reported electrical issues. At least 70 people, including players, journalists and crew members, were killed. The six survivors suffered serious injuries, including goalie Jackson Folman, whose legs reportedly had to be amputated after the crash.
Chapecó residents are devastated, mourning the soccer team that has brought the small city much pride and joy in recent years.
Angelita de Toledo, a 39-year-old social worker, told HuffPost Brazil that Chapecoense is “a team that will remain in the history of our city.”
“They meant a lot to our city. They have rescued the self-esteem of an entire region. This is a moment of severe pain, and no one knows how things will go on,” de Toledo added.
Juliana Dal Piva, a 30-year-old journalist, also spoke of the team’s kinship with the city.
“Chapecó is a very small city with 200,000 inhabitants. Everyone kind of knows each other. ... Today is a tragedy. There is no other word,” she told HuffPost Brazil.
A previously recorded video of team members and community members chanting and singing appeared on the Chapecoense Facebook account the morning after the tragedy, as a memory of good times they’d shared. Live footage posted online just hours before the crash shows the players waiting to board their flight at the airport. Another video appears to show the gleeful team aboard the plane.
Support and tributes for the soccer players, journalists and aviation crew members have continued to pour in from around the world.
Brazilian President Michel Temer expressed his solidarity with grieving families on Twitter. Medellín mayor Federico Gutiérrez encouraged community members to attend a gathering dressed all in white to honor the victims. The Revolutionary Armed Forces Of Colombia also tweeted their condolences Tuesday morning.
“Sad news.. I lost friends and colleagues. May God comfort the hearts of the each family member. MOURNING!” Paulo Victor Vidotti, a goalie from Flamengo, another Brazilian soccer club, said on Twitter.
“Brazilian football is in mourning. Chapecoense is a team from a small city in the interior of the state of Santa Catarina. They reached the elite levels of Brazilian and Latin American football. It is such a tragic loss,” said Pelé, a retired, world-renowned Brazilian football player. “Rest in peace my young brothers.”
#ForçaChape, which translates to “Chapecoense Strength” started gaining traction on social media platforms shortly after news spread of the accident.
HuffPost Brazil’s Rafael Nardini and Gabriela Bazzo contributed reporting.