A chartered plane carrying Brazil's first division soccer team crashed near Medellin while on its way to the finals of a regional tournament, killing 75 peopl on board.

Of the 81 people on board including flight crewmembers, only six people survived. 

British Aerospace short-haul flight, operated by a charter airline name LaMia, declared an emergency and lost radar contact just before 10pm Monday(0300 GMT) due to an electrical failure, according to aviation authorities.

The aircraft, which departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil for the first leg Wednesday of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin. 

"What was supposed to be a celebration has turned into a tragedy," said Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the club said, "May God accompany our athletes, officials, journalists and other guests traveling with our delegation."

Dozens of rescuers working through the night were initially heartened after pulling three passengers alive from the wreckage.

But as the time passed, heavy rainfall and low visibility grounded helicopters and complicated efforts to reach the crash site. The mood soured to the point that authorities had to freeze until dusk what was by then a body recovery operation rather than saving.

Among the survivors was a Chapecoense defender Alan Ruschel, who doctors said suffered spinal injuries. Two goalkeepers, Danilo and Jackson Follmann, as well as a member of the team's delegation and a Bolivian flight attendant, also survived.

The plane was carrying 72 passengers and nine crew members, aviation authorities said in a statement. 

British Aerospace, which is now known as BAE Systems, said that the first 146-model plane took off in 1981. With only under 400 units built, around 220 remain in service.

Alfredo Bocanegra, head of Colombia's aviation authority, said initial reports suggested the aircraft was suffering electrical problems although investigators were also looking into an account from one of the survivors that the plane run out of fuel about five minutes from its expected landing at Jose Maria Cordova airport outside Medellin.

"This is unbelievable, I am walking on the grass of the stadium and I feel like I am floating," Andrei Copetti, a team spokesman, told The Associated Press.

"No one understands how a story that was so amazing could suffer such a devastating reversal. For many people here reality has still not struck."