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

Chidi Samuel with agency reports

According to leaked audio messages, the Brazilian plane which crashed in Colombia on Monday killing most of the 77 people on board, including most members of Brazil’s football club, Chapecoense FC, ran out of fuel. In audio messages, a pilot can be heard repeatedly requesting permission to land due to an electric failure and lack of fuel, according to several agency reports. Only six of the 77 people on board the plane survived the fatal crash.

The exchanges between between the flight crew and a Colombian air traffic controller give a glimpse of the frantic, final moments of the doomed aircraft. From the conversations, the pilot 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.

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.

Among the survivors, 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.”