Air crash: Colombia investigates fuel link

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Fans mourn Chapecoense players involved in plane crash
Fans mourn Chapecoense players involved in plane crash

Colombian authorities have commenced investigation into the plane crash that claimed Brazilian footballers as more evidence suggests the plane ran out of fuel.

The crash wiped out 19 of the 22-member Brazilian soccer team as well as 20 journalists: Only six of 77 people aboard survived.

Colombian Chief of Civil Aviation, Alfredo Bocanegra says evidence is growing that a plane ran out of fuel as it tried to land, leading to the crash.

Civil Aviation Chief Alfredo Bocanegra said an initial inspection at the site indicated the plane “did not have fuel at the moment of impact”.

The investigation corroborates a leaked tape in which the pilot can be heard requesting permission to land due to an electric failure and lack of fuel.

“Upon arriving at the scene of the accident, and having been able to do an inspection of all of the remains and parts of the plane, we can affirm, clearly, that the aircraft did not have fuel at the moment of impact.

“Therefore, we have begun a process to investigate to clear up for what reason this aircraft had no fuel at the time of impact,” Bocanegra said.

Also speaking at the news conference, Civil Aviation Official, Freddy Bonilla said regulations stipulated that aircraft must have 30 minutes of extra fuel in reserve so as to be able to reach an alternative airport in an emergency.

“In this case the plane did not have the fuel to get to an alternative airport.

“The engines are the electrical source but without fuel, obviously the electrical source would have been completely lost,” he said.

In the leaked tape, the pilot can be heard warning of a “total electric failure” and “lack of fuel” adding that he was flying at an altitude of 9,000ft (2,745m).

The plane plunged into a mountainside near the Colombian city of Medellin late on Monday.

There was no explosion, which experts say could also indicate a lack of fuel.

Officials say the plane’s “black boxes”, which record flight details, will be sent to the UK to be opened by the manufacturers, the British company, BAE.

A full investigation into the crash is expected to take months.

The Brazilian team was due to play a cup final against Atletico Nacional in Medellin on Wednesday evening.

Thousands of fans gathered at the Medellin stadium amid tears, some carrying candles to pay their last respect to the team.

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