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Chapecoense air crash: Leaked tape shows plane ‘ran out of fuel’

The plane which crashed in Colombia killing most of a Brazilian football side had run out of fuel, according to a leaked audio recording.
A pilot can be heard repeatedly requesting permission to land due to an electric failure and lack of fuel.

Just six of the 77 people on board the plane survived.

The team, Chapecoense, had been due to play a cup final in Medellin on Wednesday evening. Fans instead gathered to pay tribute.

Thousands of people carrying candles and wearing white filled the stadium where Chapecoense was to have played Atletico Nacional.

At the same time, Chapecoense fans held a tearful vigil at their home stadium in Chapeco, Brazil, which was draped in black ribbons. Both stadiums were filled to capacity.

Atletico Nacional fans pay tribute to players of Brazilian club Chapecoense in Medellin, Colombia, September 30, 2016Image copyrightREUTERS

Atletico Nacional fans wore white to pay tribute to the Chapecoense players

Fans of Chapecoense pay tribute to their players at the Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco, Brazil November 30, 2016Image copyrightREUTERS

What the audio tells us

The leaked conversations between the flight crew and a Colombian air traffic controller give a glimpse of the frantic, final moments of the doomed plane.

The pilot and can be heard warning of a “total electric failure” and “lack of fuel”.

Just before the tape ends, he says he is flying at an altitude of 9,000ft (2,743m). The plane slammed into a mountainside near the Colombian city of Medellin late on Monday.

The black boxes from a crashed flight in ColombiaImage copyrightEPA

That there was no explosion when the plane came down also points to lack of fuel, with one Colombian military source telling the AFP agency its absence was “suspicious”.

It is not known why the plane was out of fuel: whether it was due to a leak or because there was not enough on board.

Investigators have yet to announce any single cause for the crash and a full analysis is expected to take months.

What we know

Who was on board?

Chapecoense were flying to Medellin for what would have been the biggest match in their history – the final of regional tournament the Copa Sudamericana.

The team lost 19 players in the crash. Twenty journalists were also killed.

Among the survivors, Chapecoense said that two players remained in a critical but stable condition, while the club’s goalkeeper had had one leg amputated and might still lose his other foot.

An injured journalist also remained in critical condition, the club said.

Another survivor, flight technician Erwin Tumiri, said he was still alive because he followed safety instructions.

“Many stood up and started shouting,” he said. “I put the suitcases between my legs and assumed the brace position.”

A team torn apart

What has the reaction been?

Three days of official mourning is under way in Brazil, with thousands of fans in the city of Chapeco massing in their home stadium to mark their loss.

Chapecoense directors say they expect up to 100,000 to attend collective funerals once all the bodies have been identified, most likely on Friday or Saturday.

“We’re very anxious for the arrival of the bodies, to give them a last tribute, which they deserve. The city has stopped, waiting for that moment to come,” said one supporter.
Chapecoense have been gathering at their home stadium

There has been an outpouring of grief and support from the football world.

The team Chapecoense were due to play in the Copa Sudamericana, Atletico Nacional, have offered to concede the game so Chapecoense are declared winners, while leading Brazilian sides have asked the league to protect the side from relegation.

Many of football’s most famous names, from Lionel Messi to Pele, have offered condolences.


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