Chapecoense striker Alejandro Martinuccio has explained how an injury ultimately spared him from travelling with his team-mates on the flight that crashed in Colombia on Monday.
The Brazilian team were travelling to Medellin for their Copa Sudamericana final first leg against Atletico Nacional when their plane came down in Cerro Gordo in the municipality of La Union.
Colombian air authorities have confirmed that at least 75 people on board were killed, with six individuals – including players Alan Ruschel, Jackson Follmann and Helio Hermito Zampier Neto – named as survivors.
Martinuccio had been due to travel with the rest of his 22 team-mates on board, but stayed in Brazil to continue his recovery.
The 28-year-old has since joined a growing number of people who have gathered to await more news at the club’s stadium, the Arena Conda.
“It’s a very difficult moment. I woke up with the news. I’m very sad,” he told La Red.
“I’ve been recovering from an injury and I didn’t travel. I got injured a month and a half ago and that’s why I wasn’t on the plane.
“I came to the club a little while ago. Everyone here is waiting for news of something. Nobody knows anything, it’s just waiting and waiting. There are five survivors and nothing more [that we know about].
“This is a wonderful club, with some first-class players. Everyone is very sad. All this is really difficult.
“We hope that there is a miracle from God. All I can ask for is that you pray for my team-mates who were on the flight.”
Igor Damo, a priest in attendance at the ground to offer comfort to the hundreds of relatives and supporters present, told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper: “There isn’t much to say right now. We have been praying lots and hugging each other. It is a time for hugs.”