Palmas president, four players die in Brazilian plane crash

The president of Palmas football club and four of its players were killed on Sunday when a small plane taking them to a Brazilian cup game crashed on take-off.

The fourth-tier club said president Lucas Meira, along with players Lucas Praxedes, Guilherme Noe, Ranule and Marcus Molinari, all died. The pilot, named only as Wagner, was also killed.

"The plane took off and crashed at the end of the runway at the Tocantinense Aviation Association," the club said. "We regret to report there are no survivors."

- The unthinkable fate of Chapecoense

The plane was heading to Goiania, around 800 km (500 miles) away, where Palmas were due to play Vila Nova on Monday in the last 16 of the Copa Verde, a tournament reserved for teams outside the traditional powerhouses of southern and northeastern Brazil.

The players were traveling in a private plane because they had tested positive for COVID-19, club spokesperson Izabela Martins told The Associated Press. Martins said that Sunday would have been their last day of isolation and that the rest of the team would travel on a commercial flight.

Palmas Futebol e Regatas was founded in 1997 and plays in Brazil's fourth division.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known.

Tocantins fire officials 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 aircraft was being consumed by fire. At least two explosions were registered, according to the official report.

The Brazilian Football Confederation expressed its solidarity with Palmas' family members and the club's fans in an official note, and it ordered a minute of silence in all matches played Sunday as a sign of mourning.

In 2016, a plane crash killed 19 players of the Chapecoense football club. Chapecoense's plane went down en route to the club's first-ever South American tournament final in Colombia after it ran out of fuel near Medellin.

"Unfortunately, we know what this moment of pain is like and we wish that 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 extends its deepest sympathies to the victims and their families at this difficult time," it said on Twitter.

Alejandro Domínguez, the president of South America's football body CONMEBOL, also offered his condolences.

"I deeply regret the plane crash that affected Palmas," he said on Twitter. "My condolences to all those who make up the club, family and friends at this sad time."

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.