Investigators have recovered the flight data and cockpit voice recorders – the “black boxes’’ – from the wreckage of a Bolivian plane that crashed in Colombia on Monday carrying the Chapecoense football team.
The recorders, which will be instrumental in uncovering what went wrong with the plane, are said to be in good condition.
Seven of the 68 passengers and nine crew on board the plane survived the crash near Medellin’s Jose Maria Cordova International Airport but one survivor subsequently succumbed to injuries to put the death toll at 71. Authorities originally thought there were 81 people on board but four did not board the doomed plane.
The dead included soccer players heading to play a final in Colombia and journalists covering the event.
The 95-seat Avro RJ-85, registered CP-2933 and owned by Lamia Airlines, was operating flight LMI-2933 from Sao Paulo Brazil via Santa Cruz in Bolivia to Medellin and was about 30km south-east of the airport in a holding pattern when it crashed in the mountains.
An airforce helicopter had to turn back due to low visibility and weather has been bad in the area.
Medellin’s Mayor Federico Gutierrez told Blu Radio that said that it is a “tragedy of huge proportions.,”
The Colombian Civil Aviation Authority said that the pilots declared an emergency at 10pm local time saying they had electrical problems.
The accident has shocked the football world anda left Brazilians mourning the loss Chapecoense, which had been due to play Atletico Nacional in the finals of Copa Sudamericana 2016 in Medellin.
The first division team, from the small city of Chapeco, made it to Brazil’s first division in 2014 for the first time since 1970 and won its way through to the Copa Sudamericana finals last week by defeating one of Argentina’s top clubs San Lorenzo.
The finals were suspended.
Medellin’s Jose Maria Cordova International Airport is located at an altitude of 2142m amongst mountains.
According to Flightradar24 the plane crashed while in the holding pattern at about 16,000ft.
The particular Avro RJ85 was built in 1999 and was one of two owned by the small Bolivian airline.