Six FOX Sports Brazil employees are among the dead in the airline crash in Colombia that devastated a Brazilian soccer team.
The group was among the 21 journalists covering the Chapecoense team from southern Brazil and its upcoming South American Cup match in Medellin, Colombia.
On the doomed flight were Deva Pascovicci, Mario Sergio, Paulo Julio Clement, Victorino Chermont, Rodrigo Santana, and Lilacio Junior.
“We were deeply saddened to learn about the fatal plane crash last night near Medellín, Colombia, which carried members of the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense as well as six of our valued FOX Sports Brazil colleagues,” 21st Century Fox Executive Co-Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Executive Co-Chairman Lachlan Murdoch and CEO James Murdoch said in a statement. “The chartered flight was due to arrive in Medellín in the first leg of the South American Cup finals.”
“The families, friends and colleagues of those affected are deep in our thoughts at this difficult time.
“We are doing everything we can to help manage the situation and take care of all of our people and the families impacted by this tragedy. In support of these efforts, we are setting up a fund in honor of our colleagues,” the statement continued.
The chartered plane carrying the team to the biggest match in its history crashed into a hillside and broke into pieces, killing 71 people and leaving six survivors, officials said Tuesday.
Commentator Mario Sergio Pontes de Paiva, a former midfielder who played briefly for Brazil’s national team in the early 1980s, and who coached for several Brazilian clubs, was most recently Internacional in 2009 and Ceara in 2010.
“Amid profound sadness and consternation over what happened, we are following minute-by-minute as new information comes out,” said Carlos Martinez, president of Fox Networks Group Latin America, in a statement.
The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline with roots in Venezuela, declared an emergency and lost radar contact just before 10 p.m. Monday because of an electrical failure, according to Colombia’s aviation agency.
The aircraft, which had departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was carrying the Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil for Wednesday’s first leg of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.
Rescuers working through the night were initially heartened after pulling three passengers alive from the wreckage. But as the hours passed, heavy rainfall and low visibility grounded helicopters and slowed efforts to reach the crash site.
Colombia’s aviation authority said initial reports suggest the aircraft was suffering electrical problems although investigators were also looking into an account from one of the survivors that the plane ran out of fuel about five minutes from its expected landing at Jose Maria Cordova airport outside Medellin.
“We can’t rule out anything. The investigation is ongoing and we’re going to await the results,” said Gustavo Vargas, a retired Bolivian air force general who is president of the airline.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.