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Four footballers die in Brazil air crash

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-01-25 09:49
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RIO DE JANEIRO -- Four players and the president of Brazilian football club Palmas died on Sunday after their plane crashed ahead of a local cup match.

President Lucas Meira and players Lucas Praxedes, Guilherme Noe, Ranule and Marcus Molinari died when the plane plummeted to the ground shortly after takeoff at the Tocantinense airfield, near the northern city of Palmas, the club said in a statement. The pilot, identified only as Wagner, was also killed.

"The plane took off and crashed at the end of the runway at the Tocantinense Aviation Association. We regret to report there are no survivors," it said.

The plane was en route to the central city of Goiania, around 800 km away, for a Copa Verde match against Vila Nova on Monday.

Local media reported that the victims had traveled separately from the main squad because they were completing the last day of mandatory isolation, having previously tested positive for COVID-19.

Founded in 1997, Palmas Futebol e Regatas plays in Brazil's Serie D.

Authorities said the plane was a twin-engine Baron model that had been engulfed in flames after the crash. An investigation into the cause of the incident was already under way on Sunday, officials said.

The incident came less than five years after 19 players and the entire coaching staff of Brazilian Serie A side Chapecoense died in a plane crash in Colombia.

In 2014, former Internacional and Brazil striker Fernandao died in a helicopter accident in central Brazil.

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