In Brief

Chapecoense plane crash: Pilot 'was warned of fuel problem'

Bolivian newspaper told Miguel Quiroga was warned he did not have enough fuel on board before take-off

The pilot of the plane that crashed in Colombia on Monday, killing 71 people, was told before take-off that he might not have enough fuel, it has been claimed.

Miguel Quiroga, who died in the crash, was also part-owner of LaMia, the firm operating the charter flight. The company has since had its operating license suspended by the Bolivian authorities.

The British-made plane, with US engines, came down on its final approach to Medellin airport killing 19 players from one of Brazil's top football teams, Chapecoense, as well as club staff, journalists and crew. There were six survivors, three of them footballers.

Yesterday, a leaked recording of Quiroga talking to air traffic control seemed to confirm rumours the jet was out of fuel when it crashed into the Andes.

The pilot can be heard asking for permission to land because of "fuel problems" and an electrical failure. Despite repeating his request, he is told to wait because another flight has priority.

Growing more desperate, a voice on the tape - said to be Quiroga's - says: "Complete electrical failure, without fuel." The last comment is a request to land: "Vectors, senorita. Landing vectors."

Bolivian newspaper El Deber reports an official at Santa Cruz airport raised concerns with the pilot that he was only carrying enough fuel for the exact flight time. Planes normally have enough for an extra 30 or 45 minutes of flying - sufficient to get them to another airport if there is a problem with the proposed landing site.

Experts say the plane was flying "at, or very near, it's maximum range", according to the BBC.

El Deber reports that an airline clerk, who died in the crash, told the official the pilot was confident there was enough fuel. The flight plan was passed on to Bolivian air control despite the concerns raised.

Lost video game claim

The Daily Mail says the plane was late taking off because crew spent 20 minutes looking for a video game for a player who had forgotten to take it out of his hold baggage, according to a WhatsApp message sent from the flight by Chapecoense's director of football, Chinho Di Domenico, who died in the crash.

The delay meant the plane then missed a planned refuelling stop in Cobija, on the border between Brazil and Bolivia, because the airport closed at midnight, adds the paper. 

What caused the Chapecoense plane crash?

1 December

An audio recording of the final moments of the charter plane that crashed in Colombia on Monday reveals the pilot begging for permission to land because he was "out of fuel". 

The plane came down as it made its final approach to Medellin from Bolivia. Only six people survived. Players and staff from one of Brazil's top football teams, Chapecoense, were among the 71 people who died.

The leaked tape confirms earlier rumours reported by Brazilian newspaper O Globo that there was no fuel in the plane's tanks when it crashed. It is thought survivors owe their lives to the lack of an explosion on impact.

Ximena Sanchez, the only surviving crew member, told the rescuer who pulled her from the wreckage: "We ran out of fuel. The aeroplane turned off."

A Colombian military source told AFP the absence of fuel was "suspicious".

Fuel problems

On the tape, the pilot can be heard repeatedly requesting permission to land from air traffic control because of "fuel problems" and an electrical failure. He is told to wait seven minutes because another flight with a mechanical failure has priority. 

Growing more desperate, the pilot says: "Complete electrical failure, without fuel." His last comment is a final request to land: "Vectors, senorita. Landing vectors."

There are several possible reasons why the pilot might have had no fuel, says The Guardian: there may have been a leak in the fuel tanks, or the pilot may have dumped the fuel for some reason.

It is also possible there was never enough fuel on board the flight for the journey it was making – planes usually carry enough for an extra 30-45 minutes to allow them to divert to a more distant airport if there is a problem.

Asked about the possibility that the plane was under-fuelled, Alfredo Bocanegra, the head of Colombia's aviation authority, said: "If this is confirmed by the investigators it would be a very painful because it stems from negligence."

Investigating authorities have refused to focus on any one cause of the crash and a full investigation will take months. The flight's "black box" recorders have been recovered from the crash site.

Candlelit vigils

Football fans gathered last night at Chapecoense's home stadium in Chapeco, in southern Brazil, and the stadium in Medellin where they were due to play the biggest match in the club's history, the final of the Copa Sudamericana.

Simultaneous candlelit vigils mourned the loss of the 19 players and the staff. The emotional event was dominated by "football, religion and grief", says the Guardian, but also was tinged with a growing sense of anger.

Chapecoense: Tributes and support flood in as Brazil mourns 

30 November

Football clubs and fans around the world have been rallying round Brazilian team Chapecoense after most of the squad was killed in a plane crash in Colombia.

They were among the 77 people, including 19 players, 15 coaches and club officials and at least 20 journalists, on board a British Aerospace 146 aircraft that came down in remote mountains as it approached Medellin. Only six people survived, three of them from the team. 

Chapecoense were en route to play against Colombian side Atletico Nacional in the final of the Copa Sudamerica. The match would have been the biggest in the club's 43-year history but instead of celebrating, fans and relatives are now in mourning.

Businesses and schools in the small town of Chapeco, in the south of Brazil, closed after hearing about the crash. 

"Hundreds of fans decked out in the club's green and white gathered at its stadium starting in the morning. Large groups remained quietly in the stands until late in day, staring past their banners at the empty green field as the sun beat down," says the Daily Telegraph.

The paper adds that in an "unprecedented move", Atletico Nacional have asked to concede the Copa Sudamericana final so Chapecoense are crowned champions.

"Atletico Nacional ask Conmebol to give the title of Copa Sudamericana be given to the Chapecoense as an honorary award for this great loss, and in posthumous homage to the victims of the fatal accident... For our part, and forever, Chapecoense are champions of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana,” said the club.

They also asked fans to come dressed in white to the stadium for a candelit vigil at the time the game was due to begin on Wednesday.

It is "widely expected" that Conmebol, the governing body of South American football, will agree to the Atletico Nacional's request. It has already suspended all competition in the wake of the crash and the final round of games in Brazil's Serie A will not now take place until 11 December.

Newly crowned Brazilian champions Palmeiras have also requested to wear Chapecoense kit for their final game of the season.

"[Palmeiras] won their first title for 22 years earlier this week, and will ask the Brazilian FA for special permission to don the now-iconic green shirts," says The Sun.

The BBC adds: "In other tributes, Brazilian first division football teams have offered to lend players to Chapecoense free of charge for the 2017 season, and asked the league to protect the club from relegation for the next three years."

Clubs and players also paid tribute to the late players on social media, many using a black version of Chapecoense's green badge. In the UK, Manchester United goalkeeper revealed he once shared a locker at Atletico Madrid with Chapecoense skipper Cleber Santana.

Even the Fifa 17 video game paid homage. "In a nod to the club, EA Sports gave every Ultimate Team player the badge and kits of Chapecoense on Tuesday," reports Goal.com.

Plane carrying Brazilian football team Chapecoense crashes

29 November

An aeroplane with 81 people on board, including players from the Brazilian football team Chapecoence, has crashed on its way to Medellin's international airport.

Authorities have confirmed that a chartered plane was involved in a serious emergency during its flight from Bolivia to Colombia.

Early reports from emergency services said that at least 25 people had been killed. But the Daily Mirror says that, according to rescuers, ten of those on board survived the crash, including three members of the Chapecoence team.

Jose Maria Cordova de Rionegro airport's twitter account tweeted: "Confirmed, the aircraft licence number CP2933 was carrying the team @ChapecoenseReal. Apparently there are survivors."

Chapecoence was scheduled to play in the final of the Copa Sudamerica against Atletico Nacional tomorrow in Medellin. The match has now been suspended.

Federico Gutierrez, Medellin's mayor, described the crash as "a tragedy of huge proportions", but added that it is possible there may be survivors.

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