Pilot said Brazilian team plane was out of fuel before deadly crash


Seventy-one people died, including most of Brazil’s Chapecoense football team, when the aircraft crashed in Colombia.

Wreckage from the plane that crashed into the Colombian jungle

The pilot of a plane carrying a Brazilian football team said he had run out of fuel moments before crashing in Colombia, according to a recording.

Seventy-one people died when the aircraft came down in a mountainous area, including most of the Chapecoense side and 20 Brazilian journalists on board.

There were six survivors – three players, two Bolivian crew members and a journalist.

The pilot radioed to air traffic controllers that he was running out of fuel and needed to make an emergency landing, according to the co-pilot of another plane in the area.

One of the footballers, goalkeeper Jackson Follman, has had surgery to have his right leg amputated and is now recovering.

Defender Helio Neto is being treated in intensive care after suffering severe trauma, including to his skull and lungs.

The three other survivors were Brazilian journalist Rafael Valmorbida, air stewardess Ximena Suarez and flight technician Erwin Tumiri.

The LaMia Airlines plane, which departed from Santa Cruz in Bolivia, was carrying the side – based in Chapeco in southern Brazil – to Colombia for the biggest game in the club’s history.

They had been due to play in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Medellin’s Atletico Nacional on Wednesday.

The team had taken a commercial flight from Brazil to Santa Cruz before making the charter connection.

The British Aerospace 146 came down as it approached Colombia’s second-largest city, Medellin, on Monday.

Initially, Colombian officials said the short-haul jet suffered an electrical failure, but there was also heavy rain when the crew declared an emergency and the plane disappeared from radar just before 10pm local time.

Two flight recorders have been recovered from the crash site on a hillside near the town of La Union.

One local resident said the aircraft appeared to have lost power.

Colombia plane crash

Nancy Munoz said: “It came over my house, but there was no noise, the engine must have gone.”

A Colombian military source earlier told the AFP news agency that the plane may have run out of fuel.

The source said: “It is very suspicious that despite the impact there was no explosion. That reinforces the theory of the lack of fuel.”

Meanwhile, a video has emerged showing the Chapecoense coaching staff praising their charter airline before they set off on their doomed flight.

Athletic director Mauro Stumpf told the Gigavision TV network that the LaMia airline had “treated us very well” during an earlier flight to Colombia when the team won a quarter-final in the South American Cup.

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