Four soccer players from the Brazilian club Palmas died in a plane crash while traveling separately from the team after testing positive for the coronavirus.
The club’s president also died in the crash after the plane suddenly fell to the ground at the end of the runway while taking off in northern Tocantins state, the team reported. The pilot also died.
The players were on their way to Goiania in the central region of the country to play a match against Vila Nova.
The players were on a private plane because they tested positive for COVID-19, club spokeswoman Izabela Martins told The Associated Press.
Martins said Sunday would have been her last day of isolation and that the rest of the team would be traveling on a commercial flight.
The victims were identified as President Lucas Meira and the players Lucas Praxedes, Guilherme Noé, Ranule and Marcus Molinari. The pilot has not been identified. There were no survivors.
Palmas Futebol e Regatas was founded in 1997 and plays in the fourth division of Brazil. The cause of the accident was not immediately known.
Tocantin’s firefighters reported that the twin-engine Baron model had a capacity of six occupants. When firefighters arrived at the crash site 500 meters from the runway, the plane was consumed by the fire. According to the official report, at least two explosions were recorded.
The Brazilian Football Association expressed its solidarity with the family members of Palmas and the fans of the club in an official note and ordered a minute’s silence in all games that were played on Sunday as a sign of mourning.
In 2016, 19 players from Chapecoense football club were killed in a plane crash. Chapecoense’s plane crashed on its way to the club’s first South American tournament final in Colombia after running out of fuel near Medellin.
“Unfortunately, we know what this moment of pain is like, and we wish no other group had to feel the same,” Chapecoense said in a statement.
“You won’t go through this alone.” FIFA expressed its condolences to the six victims.
“Football expresses its deepest condolences to the victims and their families at this difficult time,” it said on Twitter.
Alejandro Domínguez, President of the South American Football Association CONMEBOL, also expressed his condolences.
“I deeply regret the plane crash that hit Palmas,” he said on Twitter.
“My condolences go out to everyone who makes up the club, family and friends at this sad time.”