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Poignant cartoon shows Chapecoense players 'arriving in heaven' following horror crash which killed entire team; The image shared on the team's Facebook page has been shared widely as the outpouring or grief continues.

Byline: Russell Myers

This poignant image captures the terrible tragedy of the Brazilian football team wiped out by a plane crash.

Seventy one people died when the flight carrying Chapecoense FC to a cup match plunged into the mountain in Colombia.

Almost everyone connected with the small club died including players, the manager and coaches.

Twenty journalists and the crew on board were also killed.

As the world continues to pay tribute to the victims, a cartoon was posted by Chapecoense's Facebook page which has struck a chord with many.

It shows the players lined up in heaven as God hands them a halo each.

In a message, the club charted their progress through Brazil's lower divisions to the Copa Sudamericana final in which they were due to compete.

"2009 - 4th division2012 - 3rd division2013 - 2nd division2014 - 1st division2016 - South-American Championship final.They didn't tire of going up, and they arrived in heaven.#StrengthChape"

Earlier, it was revealed the Chapecoense players on the doomed flight which crashed on Cerro Gordo, Colombia, should never have been on the plane in the first place.

Tragically, reports in Brazil claimed the team were not initially meant to be on the doomed BAe 146 charter flight out of Bolivia.

They were reportedly forced to when Brazilian aviation authorities barred the club from hiring a plane to fly them direct from Sao Paulo to Medellin.

They were the underdogs who defied odds to reach the final of a major football competition after a fairytale winning streak.

But the Brazilian club's dreams ended in tragedy when a plane crash wiped out almost all the squad.

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Some 75 of the 81 passengers and crew died in the disaster. Just six survived, including three Chapecoense players, who were travelling to the biggest game in the small club's history.

Their plane suffered massive mechanical failure before smashing into remote mountains in Colombia.

Chapecoense director Plinio David de Nes Filho said: "This wasn't just a group where everyone respected each other, it was a family.

"Before they got on the plane they said they were going to make this dream come true. And this morning the dream ended."

Chapeco Soccer Association added in a statement: "May God be with our athletes, leaders, journalists and other invitees who are in the delegation."

The team, coaches and staff, along with 21 sports journalists covering the match, were heading to the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Colombian side Atletico Nacional, due to take place today.

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The pilot was hailed a hero after it emerged he circled the plane before the crash landing in a desperate bid to lose fuel and avoid an explosion on impact.

And in a further heartbreaking twist, one member of the squad found out just a week ago he was going to be a father.

A video has emerged of striker Thiaguinho, 22, opening a note from his wife Graziele as teammates applaud him.

Players had also posted cheerful videos to social media just moments before take-off.

Defender Alan Ruschel, 27 and goalkeeper Danilo Padilha uploaded footage of them on the plane and proudly telling fans: "We're coming Colombia".

Ruschel, who suffered a broken hip and head injuries, was heard asking medics to look after his wedding ring as he arrived at hospital and spoke to his wife by phone from his hospital bed.

The club later confirmed Padilha, 31, died in hospital.

Chapecoense, from Brazil's top league Serie A, had been flying to face Medellin side Atletico Nacional in South America's equivalent of the Europa League.

Like Leicester City winning the Premier League last season, they had gone against the odds with their winning streak.

Rescue helicopters were unable to land at the crash site due to fog and treacherous conditions, so rescuers were forced to make their way there on foot in pouring rain.

Survivors found among the mangled wreckage were placed on to stretchers and carried down the mountainside before being put into lorries and later ambulances.

Colombia's civil aviation head, Alfredo Bocanegra confirmed the other survivors as goalkeeper Jackson Follmann, 24, defender Helio Neto, 31, plus journalist Rafael Valmorbida, Bolivian flight attendant Ximena Suarez and Bolivian flight technician Erwin Tumiri.

Two of the survivors were last night reported to be in a grave condition.

The new mayor-elect of Chapeco was on the list of those onboard having planned to join his town's team for their crucial match.

Luciano Bulligon changed his mind at the last minute as his schedule was too full.

The aircraft was en route from Bolivia where it had a scheduled stop over.

The 17-year-old BAe 146 short-haul aircraft, which had nine crew members, was seen broken into pieces near La Union, a small town outside Medellin, Colombia.

Tributes poured last night in from the global football family. Brazil declared three days of mourning and all football matches in the country were postponed for a week.

President Michel Temer said: "I express my solidarity in this sad hour during which tragedy has beset dozens of Brazilian families.

"The government will do all it can to alleviate the pain of the friends and family of sport and national journalism."

Former Atletico Madrid midfielder Cleber Santana, 35, was the first player confirmed to have died by authorities.

He played 37 times for the La Liga giants between 2007 and 2010.

Mr Santana also played for Spanish side Real Mallorca. He signed for Chapecoense last year.

Among the team from FOX, which was broadcasting the game, were commentators Devair Pascovicci and Mario Sergio, as well as respected football journalist Victorino Chermont.

Anderson Paixao, the trainer of both Chapecoense and the Brazilian national side, was also among those not accounted for and presumed dead.

Mr Paixao had first been called up to train Brazil stars such as Neymar and David Luiz last year for the Copa America in Chile.

Club physiotherapist Rafael Gobbato is also believed to be among the dead.

Atletico Nacional made the gracious gesture of offering the championship to their tragic rivals.

Medellin's mayor Federico Gutierrez called the crash "a tragedy of huge proportions."

Chapecoense will be crowned Copa Sudamerica champions "in the next few days", according to Brazilian sports journalist Thiago Suman.

He said: "The information at the moment is that Atletico Nacional will send a request to [governing body] Conmebol for them to declare Chapecoense the legitimate winners of the cup.

"Chapecoense will be crowned champions, if not tomorrow night when the winner would have been decided, then certainly in the next few days."

CAPTION(S):

Credit: Facebook/Associacao Chapecoense de Futebol

Chapecoense players depicted as angels in touching cartoon tribute posted on Facebook page

Credit: Getty Images

The wreckage of the LAMIA airlines charter plane carrying members of the Chapecoense Real football team is seen after it crashed in the mountains of Cerro Gordo, municipality of La Union

Credit: FuerzaChapecoe/Twitter

Brazilian football team Chapecoense players with the pilot

Credit: Getty Images

Rescuers search for survivors from the wreckage of the LAMIA airlines charter plane carrying members of the Chapecoense Real football team that crashed in the mountains of Cerro Gordo, municipality of La Union

Credit: Reuters

Fans of Chapecoense football team comfort each other

Credit: Getty

The wreckage of the LAMIA airlines charter plane

Credit: REUTERS

Flowers and messages in front of the Arena Conda stadium

Credit: Getty Images

Rescuers carry one of the survivors from the crash

Credit: Policiantioqula/Twitter

Rescuers at the site of the crash

Credit: REUTERS

Chapcoense supporters gathering in front of the Arena Conda stadium

Credit: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Medical staff waiting for survivors
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Title Annotation:News,World news
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:3COLO
Date:Nov 30, 2016
Words:1303
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