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Colombia confirms crashed plane was out of fuel

The wreckage of the LaMia airlines charter plane carrying members of the Chapecoense Real football team is seen after it crashed in the mountains of Cerro Gordo, municipality of La Union, on November 29, 2016 © AFP/File / Raul ARBOLEDA

BOGOTA, Colombia, Dec 27 – Preliminary investigations have confirmed that a plane that crashed in the Colombian mountains last month killing 71 people including most of a Brazilian football team was out of fuel, officials said Monday.

The LaMia airlines charter flight crashed just outside Medellin on November 28, virtually wiping out the Chapecoense Real football club as they traveled to the biggest match in their history.

Freddy Bonilla, the head of Colombia’s civil aviation authority, said investigations indicated the British Aerospace 146 jet had run out of fuel.

That has been the leading theory on the crash ever since a harrowing recording emerged of the pilot radioing the control tower to report a fuel emergency.

The pilots “were aware of the fuel limitations they had at the time. It was neither adequate nor sufficient,” Bonilla told a press conference.

However, they did not sound the alarm until several minutes before the crash, he said.

The plane was overweight by about 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds), but that did not appear to have played a “decisive” role, he added.

According to the civil aviation authority, the pilots requested priority to land at 9:49 pm (0249 GMT) because of a fuel problem. They then began their descent before receiving authorization.

At 9:53 pm, one of their engines stopped. Three minutes later, all four were gone.

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The plane declared an emergency at 9:57 pm because of a “total electrical failure,” then disappeared from the radar. A minute later, the pilots descended to 9,000 feet — 1,000 less than the minimum altitude for the region.

At 9:58 pm, the plane slammed into the Cerro Gordo mountain at a speed of 115 knots (around 130 miles per hour).

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