Journalist Rafael Henzel, who survived the plane crash that killed 71 people in Colombia last month, has slammed the crew and shed light on the mood in the cabin before the doomed flight crashed.
The flight, which took off from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, crashed around 30km from the Colombian city of Medellin and was carrying most of the Chapecoense football team, a club from Brazil’s top division.
Just six of the 77 passengers and crew on board survived the crash. Henzel, who was sitting in the second-last row of the plane, broke seven ribs.
Continuing his road to recovery, Henzel, who was travelling with the team to cover their scheduled Copa Sudamericana tournament final against Colombia’s Atletico Nacional, lashed out on television.
When he learned the crash was most likely due to a lack of fuel, as revealed by Colombian authorities, Henzel said it made him sick.
“People died because of a lack of judgment [from the staff],” he told Colombian television program Fantastico, as reported by The Guardian.
“That is revolting.”
He added: “At no point did someone from the cabin or the crew tell us, ‘Put on your seatbelts’.
“We just kept flying without any idea of what was about to happen.”
He said as the flight continued on, passengers wanted to know when they would be arriving.
“Ten minutes,” the crew regularly said, according to Henzel, before describing the moment the passengers knew their lives were in danger.
“Then suddenly, the lights went off and the engines went off.”
Henzel added that the passengers then quickly went back to their seats and put their seatbelts on just as the LaMia flight crashed.
Of the 71 people who died, 20 were journalists, with Renan Agnolin and cameraman Djalma Araujo Neto, who were sitting on either side of Henzel, both among the victims
Henzel is recovering in hospital and has been posting messages on his Twitter account as his condition has improved.
“Here in Colombia and counting the hours to return,” he posted on Monday.
“There’s a lot ahead of us … 14th day and getting better.”
He also wrote on Sunday: “Good day friends … he saved me … thank you Lord!!”
Of the other five people to survive the crash, three were footballers: Alan Ruschel, Jackson Follmann and Helio Neto.
Crew members Ximena Suarez and Erwin Tumuri also survived.
Vision of Ruschel walking, with assistance, and promising a return to Brazil was released by the San Vicente Foundation Hospital in Colombia last week.
Ruschel said in the vision: “Thank you, everyone, everyone worried about my recovery.
“I wanted to tell you that I am recovering very well. I will soon be back in Brazil to finish recovering.
“I want to thank you for all your support, for all the caring messages I received. Thank you, everyone, thank you very much.”
Reserve goalkeeper Follmann had his leg amputated after the crash but is also expected to return to Brazil shortly. Neto remains in intensive care.
Both Suarez and Tumuri, who are from Bolivia, have returned to their home nation.