The 2016 plane crash that wiped out a Brazilian football team was caused by a lack of fuel, Colombia’s aviation authority said Friday following an extensive investigation into the disaster.
The probe was launched after the November 28 crash which claimed the lives of 71 people, including all but a handful of players from Brazil’s Chapecoense Real football club.
The accident “was caused by the plane’s empty fuel tank as a result of inappropriate risk management by LaMia (Airlines),” said Miguel Camacho, who heads the authority’s accident investigation branch.
LaMia Airlines is a Bolivian-registered charter company that specializes in flying Latin American football clubs.
Investigators from Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia had been looking into what caused the crash, with Friday’s report confirming what had been one of the leading theories after a recording emerged in which the pilot radioed the control tower to report a fuel emergency.
Following a preliminary investigation a month after the crash, the Colombian aviation authority said it believed the airline had disregarded international rules on fuel reserves.
In its report Friday, the aviation authority said it had found sufficient “evidential and technical support” to corroborate that theory.
Chapecoense had been enjoying a fairy tale season and were en route to the biggest match in their history, which they were tipped to win, when the plane went down, crashing into the Colombian mountains not far from the city of Medellin.
Of the 77 people onboard, only six people survived, three of them Chapecoense players.
Also killed were 20 Brazilian journalists who were traveling with the team to cover the match.