Chapecoense football team goalkeeper Nivaldo, who did not travel with the team in the chartered plane that crashed in Colombia in the early hours of Tuesday, revealed that he was not able to believe what was unravelling around him on the fateful morning.
The plane, which was headed to Colombia on Monday, carrying 81 people including players and coaching staff from the football team based in Brazil, crashed near a mountainous stretch outside the city - Gerro Gordo - reportedly claiming 76 lives.
Only three of Chapecoense players - number 10 Alan Ruschel, goalkeeper Marcos Danilo and another team member Jacson Ragnar Follmann - survived the crash after suffering injuries, according to initial reports.
Along with them, two other passengers have also survived and are being treated at a hospital near the crash site.
The team, which plays in Brazil's top-tier football league - Serie A, was heading to Medellin to play the Copa Sudamericana final first leg against Colombia's local side Atletico Nacional. The return leg was scheduled to be held in Brazil on 6 December.
Nivaldo, who has been part of the team since 2006, said he came to know of the news when a friend had called him on Tuesday morning to enquire whether he was on the flight. He revealed he tried contacting the players and the coaching staff but found no success with his attempts.
"I am preparing for the worst. I do not want to, I do not believe it, but it has to be strong," Nivaldo said, as quoted by UOL Esporte website. "Everyone is praying that the worst has not happened."
Chapecoense reportedly broke into the top-tier for the first time since the 1970s in 2014 and have made significant improvements since then. They defeated Argentina's San Lorenzo in the semi-final last week to progress to the continental tournament's final.
Nivaldo, who according to the website was not able to continue talking, revealed that the Copa Sudamericana final was among the biggest matches for the club.
Also, PlÃnio David de NÃªs Filho, the president of Chapecoense's board, has said the club was devastated by the incident and shared his memories of the Chapecoense players.
"Everybody laughed so much, even in defeat... There was a great atmosphere, great joy. Yesterday morning, when I said goodbye to them, they said that they were going off to make our dreams come true. We shared this dream with all our emotion. And in the early hours of this morning, that dream came to an end," Plinio David said, as quoted by The Guardian.
The news portal also shared a Tweet, in which three of the Chapecoense players, who also did not travel to Colombia, sitting in the club's dressing room after being devastated by the news.