RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec. 17 : (Xinhua) — The Brazilian government held a ceremony on Friday in Brasilia to grant awards to 11 Colombian citizens who provided help in a plane crash that killed the majority of a Brazilian soccer team delegation in November.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Jose Serra awarded the Order of Rio Branco, the highest award of Brazilian diplomacy, to Medellin mayor Federico Gutierrez Zuluaga and three other government officials, as well as TV reporter Monica Patricia Jaramillo Giraldo and 15-year-old Johan Alexis Ramirez Castro, who lives near the crash site and helped guide the rescue teams to the wreckage.
Five people received the Defense Merit Order, which is granted to those who provide aid to the Brazilian Armed Forces. Among the recipients were Eduardo Bueno Vargas, a commander in the Colombian Air Force, and Jorge Hernando Nieto Rojas, director of the Colombian national police.
The city of Medellin was awarded the National South Cross Order, the highest honor Brazil grants to foreign citizens and institutions.Bolivia’s LaMia Flight 2933 crashed on Nov. 28 just before landing in Medellin, Colombia, killing 71 out of the 77 people aboard, among them were members of the Chapecoense delegation and accompanying journalists.
The Chapecoense soccer team was traveling to Colombia to play against local team Atletico Nacional for the first match of the Copa Sudamericana finals.
Out of the six survivors, two are crew members and four are Brazilians:three Chapecoense players and one journalist.
All four Brazilian survivors have already returned to their home country.Serra praised the solidarity Colombian people showed to Brazilians amid the tragedy, saying that “the compassion and solidarity of the Colombian people touched all Brazilians.”
Brazilian President Michel Temer said words are not enough to thank the Colombians. He also praised the noble attitude of Chapecoense’s rival in the finals, Atletico Nacional, which gave up the title of champion to pay homage to the tragic team.