Colombia plane crash: Chapecoense player Helio Neto pulled alive from wreckage after six hours
Rescuers searching through the wreckage of a charter plane that crashed into a mountain in Colombia had all but given up hope of finding any survivors when, almost six hours after the devastating impact, a police officer heard moans coming from the twisted fuselage.
"In the late hours of the night, almost at dawn, we heard some distress calls in another language," one of the rescuers, Juan David González, told Colombian news organisation Tele Medellin.
"The first call was heard by a police officer. When we arrived at the site we heard moans and found the patient. He was in poor condition, but he could move."
That patient was Brazilian soccer player Helio Neto, who witnesses said was covered in mud and had his eyes open when rescuers, who had followed his cries for help, discovered him about 4am on Tuesday, local time (Wednesday NZT).
* Player managed to call his wife before dying
* Jackson Follmann's 'miracle' survival has family thanking god
* A town in mourning for its beloved team
* Plane crashes into jungle, killing nearly all on board
* Brazilian team's dream shattered by plane crash
The 31-year-old was the last person pulled alive from the wreckage of the worst air disaster in Colombia in two decades.
Neto, a defender with the Brazilian team Chapecoense, was one of only six people who survived the crash.
Seventy-one others died when the British Aerospace 146 slammed into the mountain about 10.15pm on Monday night, local time.
Officials originally said 81 people were on board, but have since revised that down to 77.
The Chapecoense team, which was travelling to the Colombian city of Medellin to play in the final of a South American tournament, was all but wiped out in the crash.
Only Neto, defender Alan Ruschel and substitute goalkeeper Jackson Follmann survived.
The other three survivors were journalist Rafael Valmorbida; Bolivian flight attendant Ximena Suarez; and Bolivian flight technician Erwin Tumiri, Colombia's civil aviation authority said.
In addition to players, coaches and staff, 21 journalists had been on board the plane to cover the match, Brazilian news organisations said.
González told Tele Medellin that rescuers put Neto on a stretcher and walked him along a "long trail" to reach a rescue vehicle, which took him to hospital.
Neto was in a "very delicate but stable" condition in intensive care, Dr Guillermo Molina, head of a clinic treating him, said. He suffered trauma to his head, thorax and lungs, as well as open wounds to his knees.
The aircraft had reported electrical problems and declared an emergency minutes before the crash as it neared its destination, Medellin airport officials said.
At the crash scene, near the town of La Union outside Medellin, dozens of bodies were laid out and covered with sheets around the wreckage.
Two black boxes were recovered from the crash site, Colombia's government said.
Meantime, the son of the head coach of the Chapecoense team has revealed he didn't board the doomed flight because he forgot his passport.
Matheus Saroli, whose father Caio Junior coached Chapecoense, had gone to the airport but was turned away.
"Thank you all for calling and sending messages," Saroli said in a Facebook post. "I was in [Sao Paulo] today and I did not board because I forgot my passport."
He also asked for privacy for his family.
"We are strong," he wrote. "We will go through it."
- Sydney Morning Herald