New details are starting to emerge about the charter plane crash in Colombia that killed 71 people, including members of the Brazilian Chapecoense soccer team. Several Colombian media outlets are reporting leaked audio, in which the pilot informed air traffic controllers that the plane had run out of fuel. It was previously reported that the plane experienced electrical difficulties before it crashed en route to its destination of Medellin.
Two sources close to the investigation told CNN that the pilot sent a distress call, which included claims that “the plane is in total electric failure and without fuel” at a reported altitude of 9,000 feet. Even with the new leaked audio, officials are still trying to determine the exact cause of the crash. Alfredo Bocanegra, head of Colombia’s aviation agency, said evidence originally pointed to an electrical malfunction, but with this new audio surfacing, they are not ruling out the possibility of a fuel shortage. Bocanegra added, “If this is confirmed by the investigators, it would be very painful because it stems from negligence.”
Generally, planes usually carry enough extra fuel to last 45 minutes in the event of an emergency and infrequently fly in a straight line in case they suffer turbulence or harsh winds. But the fuel shortage account does line up with flight attendant Ximena Sanchez’s story, who told a rescuer they had run out of fuel. A lack of fire damage to the plane also points towards no fuel being in the vessel when it crashed into the ground.