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'This rain must be St Peter crying': Brazilian town comes to a standstill to honour plane crash victims

Tens of thousands of people braved heavy rain in Chapecó, Brazil, for a memorial ceremony honouring the victims of a plane crash, including the town's football team.

Air Force personnel carried the coffins into the Chapecóense club stadium Credit: Reuters

Fifty coffins were flown into the Brazilian town from Colombia, where the crash killed 71 people including the Chapecóense club.

Leaving for the service, Brazil's president Michel Temer said: "This event, as you know, shook the whole country. This rain must be St Peter crying."

Some 20,000 were able to get into the stadium, while thousands more lined the streets to see the procession head to the club's stadium for the memorial.

There, a huge black banner was hung on outer wall.

"We looked for one word to thank all the kindness and we found many," it said, followed by the words "thank you" in more than a dozen languages.

Tens of thousands of people attended the memorial Credit: Reuters

Inside the stadium, Air Force personnel carried the coffins through the mud, to applause from the crowd. Mourners were then allowed to visit the coffins directly.

Chapecóense had enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years, climbing from minor leagues to reach the final of Copa Sudamericana - a South American tournament.

They had been on their way to the historic match when the BAe146 regional airliner, operated by Bolivian charter company LAMIA, smashed into a hillside near the city of Medellin, Colombia.

Only six of those on board survived, including three members of the football team.

'This rain must be St Peter crying', the president said Credit: Reuters

Reports that the plane had barely enough fuel for the four-hour and 22-minute flight have caused outrage amongst families of the victims and football fans worldwide.

The airliner had circled outside Medellin for 16 minutes while another aircraft made an emergency landing, and had radioed in reporting it was out of fuel before crashing.

Brazilian media, citing a leaked internal document, have claimed that an official at Bolivia's aviation agency had raised concerns about LAMIA's flight plan before the plane took off.

He urged the airline to draw up an alternative route, as the journey time was the same length as the plane's maximum flight range.

The tragedy has left football fans around the world in shock Credit: Reuters

LAMIA Chief Executive Officer Gustavo Vargas said the plane had been correctly inspected before departure and should have had enough fuel for about 4-1/2 hours. He said it was the pilot's responsibility to decide whether to stop to refuel.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has vowed to take "drastic measures" to uncover the cause of the crash.

In the meantime, LAMIA's operating license has been suspended, and the national aviation authority's management has been replaced.

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