Chapecoense plane crash: Team’s home town gathers for service


The bodies of 71 people killed in a plane crash that wiped out a Brazilian football team are returning home.

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend a memorial service at Chapecoense’s stadium in Chapeco.

Just six people survived Monday’s crash outside Medellin, Colombia, where they were due to play a regional final.

The cause of the crash is unclear. But recording has emerged of the pilot asking the control tower for priority to land because he was out of fuel.

Brazilian President Michel Temer greeted the planes at the airport.

He is not expected to go to the ceremony at the stadium, reportedly amid concerns about protests taking place.

Fireworks exploded as the first of two military planes arrived in Chapeco early on Saturday.

On Friday, hundreds of people had lined the road in Medellin to pay their final respects.

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A fan pays tribute to the players of Brazilian team Chapecoense Real at the clubImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionFans are coming together in heavy rain at Chapecoense’s stadium
Feliciano Encina, father of Gustavo Encina, Paraguayan pilot of the crashed plane that carried the Brazilian team Chapecoense, cries next to the coffin of his son at the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Luque, Paraguay 2 December 2016.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe remains of Paraguayan crew member Gustavo Encina was handed over to his father in Paraguay

The victims include 64 Brazilians, five Bolivians, a Venezuelan and a Paraguayan.

Nineteen of the dead were players with Chapecoense, and many more were support staff and journalists covering the team.

The bodies will be carried during a funeral procession through Chapeco on Saturday, ending with a ceremony at the team’s stadium.

Many fans started to gather in heavy rain outside the stadium early on Saturday, with some having arrived on Friday.

“I will only really believe it when we see the coffins and the families,” one of the fans, Pamela Lopes, told Reuters. “At first there was commotion, but now a great sadness has set in.”

Supporters of Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense attend a vigil ahead of the 3 December tribute to the club's victims of the plane accident in Colombia, at Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco, Brazil, 2 December 2016.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionChapecoense supporters held a vigil ahead of Saturday’s memorial service

A minute’s silence will be held before every football match this weekend, and football’s world governing body Fifa, whose head Gianni Infantino will attend the service, requested that all players wear black armbands in remembrance.

The team has been described as having “a fairy story with a tragic ending”.

It only won promotion to the country’s top division in 2014, but was on its way to the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final in Medellin when the plane went down.