International

City prepares to bury soccer crash victims

2016-12-03 15:53
Chapecoense Real. (Getty Images)

Chapeco - A small Brazilian city that was captivated by the rise of its modest soccer club on Saturday prepared to bury the victims from a plane crash that claimed most of the team's players and staff.

The plane crashed into a muddy mountainside outside of Medillin, Colombia, on Monday as the club headed to the two-game final of one of Latin America's top club tournaments. Seventy-one of the 77 people on board died, including 19 players on the team.

Saturday's memorial service for the Chapecoense soccer club was expected to attract 100 000 people - half the city's population - to the area around the small, 20 000-capacity stadium.

Ahead of the memorial, the bodies of many of the dead, all in caskets, arrived on Saturday morning in Chapeco. Several cargo planes flew overnight from Colombia.

The caskets were received by soldiers waiting in formation on the tarmac. Under heavy rain, they removed one casket at a time, wheeling them to vehicles to transport them to the stadium.

Meanwhile, thousands began arriving at the stadium. Because of the limited capacity, many planned to watch the ceremony on big screens set up outside.

The memorial comes after a heart-wrenching week for residents and family members stunned by the crash.

Staff at the Jardim do Eden cemetery, where some of the victims will be buried, said they were used to the business of death; but not this kind tragedy.

"We bury two people every day. I've done this job for a long time, but this is different," said Dirceu Correa, caretaker of the cemetery. "It is a tragedy for the families, for the club, and also for us because we are a part of the city."

Gravediggers prepared for interments at two cemeteries where 13 people associated with the club will be buried. The bodies of the rest, including the 19 players, will be transported later to other cities around Brazil for burial.

In an emotional news conference Friday, the mother of one of the victims paused in between answering questions from reporters to ask one herself.

"How are you in the press doing after losing so many colleagues?" asked Ilaides Padilha, mother of the goalkeeper Danilo, referring to the 20 journalists who were killed in the crash.

The stunned reporter, Guido Nunes of Sportv, started crying, and Padilha hugged him. "We're all in this together," she said.

Brazilian President Michel Temer had been scheduled to greet the planes at the airport on Saturday, but not go to the memorial. Temer, who took power earlier this year after President Dilma Rousseff was impeached and removed, is deeply unpopular. He was jeered at the recent Olympics.

However, after being criticized on social media and even the father of one of the fallen players, Temer's aides said he would in fact attend the memorial.

"He should come to the stadium. No one would boo," said Osmar Machado, father of dead defender Felipe.

Read more on:    chapecoense  |  soccer
NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
Vote

Do you think SAFA made the right choice in appointing Stuart Baxter as head coach of Bafana Bafana?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.