Thousands Pack Chapeco Cathedral To Mourn Plane Crash Victims

The city's residents turned out in their team's green and white kit to mourn the deadReuters

Thousands squeezed into Chapeco cathedral, Brazil, on Tuesday evening to mourn the death of 71 people who died in a plane crash on Monday night.

The chartered flight carrying 19 footballers from the city's Chapecoense's team crashed into a mountain in Colombia on Monday night. Three of the six survivors were players travelling with their club to the final of Copa Sudamericana, a South American tournament.

Pope Francis sent his condolences and an apostolic blessing to Cardinal Archbishop of Brasilia in Brazil. In his message the pontiff asked heaven for comfort and healing for the wounded, and the courage and consolation of Christian hope for all those affected, according to Fides.

Distraught residents of the small southern Brazilian town walked around the football stadium in silence. Later a service was held at the ground, known as Arena Conda.

City officials have declared 30 days of mourning and cancelled all holiday festivals. Three days of national mourning has been declared by Brazilian President Michel Temer.

The club said in a statement: "May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with our delegation."

The team was in the middle of its best ever season. The only players to survive were goalkeeper Jakson Follmann, defender Helio Zampier, also known as Neto, and defender-midfielder Alan Ruschel.

Coach Caio Junior is credited with Chape's quick rise and was also among the dead.

Thousands crammed into the Cathedral and thousands more into the football stadium for services of remembramceReuters

The tragedy has prompted an outpouring of grief across the footballing world. Superstars Neymar and Lionel Messi posted tributes on Twitter. Barcelona and Real Madrid teams had a time of silence during training.

"This is a very, very sad day for football," FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement. "At this difficult time our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends."

"The dream is not over. We will fight back when it's time," said Chape's acting club president, Gelson Della Costa.

"Now it's time to take care of the families," he said

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