Pilot Says “LAMIA 933 is in total failure, total electrical failure, without fuel”
A leaked recording of the last minutes of the doomed flight of the Colombian chartered plane LaMia Airlines 2933 carrying a Brazilian soccer team gave investigators the clue to the cause of the crash.
In an audiotape from the air traffic tower, the pilot repeatedly told air traffic controllers he had run out of fuel and requested to land before crashing into the Andes late Monday.
The ABC reported that a female controller could be heard giving instructions to the passengers before the jetliner lost speed and altitude about 13 kilometres from the Medellin airport.
Before it slammed into a mountainside, the pilot was flying at an altitude at 9,000 feet.
The disaster killed 71 people on board, including members of Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team traveling to the Copa Sudamericana finals. Six passengers survived the tragedy including three players, a journalist and two crew members.
LAMIA is based in Bolivia and the United Kingdom.
Accounts of the Survivors
One survivor of the crash was Ximena Sanchez, a Bolivian flight attendant who told rescuers the plane had run out of fuel moments before the crash.
“We ran out of fuel. The airplane turned off,'” Ms Sanchez told one rescuers, who helped pull her from the wreckage.
Reports say investigators are set to interview Ms Sanchez at the clinic near Medellin where she is recuperating.
To single out the cause of the crash, investigators also want to speak to Juan Sebastian Upegui, the co-pilot on an Avianca commercial flight. Upegui was in contact with air traffic controllers near Medellin’s Jose Maria Cordova airport when the chartered plane slammed into the mountainside.
Upegui recalled he heard the doomed flight’s pilot request priority to land because he was out of fuel.
“Growing ever more desperate, the pilot eventually declared ‘May Day! May Day!’ because of a ‘total electrical failure’,” Mr Upegui said.
Brazil Declares Three Days of Mourning
The disaster brought shock waves round the soccer world and to their nation. The whole country is mourning and the social media is flooded with images of thousands of Brazilians grieving for the loss of the Chapecoense soccer squad.
A Reuters report says in the small city of Chapecó in remote southern Brazil, black and green ribbons were draped on fences, balconies and restaurant tables. Businesses are closed and schools suspended classes.
Aside from that, hardcore fans of the soccer squad put up a tent outside the team’s Conda stadium. The fans vowed to organize a vigil until the bodies of their idols are returned to the city.