Sport Football Emotional Chapecoense tribute as evidence mounts for fuel theory

Emotional Chapecoense tribute as evidence mounts for fuel theory

chapecoense tribute
Children unveil a Brazilian flag in homage to the fallen football team. Photo: Getty
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Colombians have shown their respect for the victims of the tragic plane crash that claimed almost an entire Brazilian football team by staging an incredible tribute at Medellin’s Atanasio Girardot Stadium.

The stadium, which was to host the Copa Sudamericana final between the fallen Chapecoense and local Medellin team Atletico Nacional, was packed to the brim with Colombians eager to pay their respects to the victims.

Despite there being no match to speak of, and the fact Chapecoense are a Brazilian club, Colombians filled the stadium and sung songs in homage to the team, which had until Monday night experienced a fairytale season.

And they did more than pack out the stands – over 100,000 Colombians spilled outside the stadium, holding lights and banners.

Emotions were high when the remaining players, coaching staff and youth team ran a lap of honour around the ground.

“So many brothers lost in such a short time. But we have to go forward and overcome,” João Lima, a Chapecoense youth player told The Guardian.

While investigators continue to examine how the tragedy that killed 71 people unfolded, moving stories of the players’ partners and loved ones have begun to emerge.

Eliana Carini, girlfriend of Chapecoense security chief Adriano Wulff Bitencourt, who perished in the crash, said she was supposed to be on the doomed flight but had not been able to organise her passport in time.

“On Saturday, we had an event and he came to say goodbye and told me, ‘See you when I get back’, but that won’t happen with him nor any of the other victims,” a distraught Carini told World News En Espanol.

Also fortuitously absent from the flight was 42-year-old veteran Chapecoense goalkeeper Nivaldo, who chose to miss the final to play his 300th game in front of his home crowd.

“Everything has a reason in life,” Nivaldo told media as he struggled to hold back tears, explaining he wanted his farewell game to be at home.

Goalkeeper Nivaldo has announced his retirement following the crash. Photo: Twitter

Anger as fuel rumours swell

Following initial reports the plane had gone down over the mountainous terrain due to an electrical failure, it now seems the chartered flight may also have run out of fuel.

Audio leaked to a local Colombian radio station reveals the terrifying moments before the plane went down, including the pilot telling air traffic control, “Flight CPC 2933 reports that we have a total electrical failure … and we are without fuel”.

Chapecoense crash plane ran out of fuel
A view of the airplane crash near Medellin, Colombia. Photo: Getty

Air traffic control can be heard informing the pilot he is 8.5 nautical miles from the nearest runway, before the audio cuts out.

Brazil’s O’ Globo newspaper said Colombian aviation authorities had confirmed there was no fuel found in the BAE 146’s tank, while a representative for plane operator Lamia claimed the pilot had decided to fly on to Medellin without a fuel stop.

The evidence, paired with the fact the plane crashed without an explosion, points to a theory put forward by aviation experts: that the plane was flying outside of its range.

The Bolivian operator of the BAE 146s plane said on its website – later taken offline – that the model had a maximum range of around 2965km, or about the distance between Santa Cruz and Medellin.

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