SEVENTY-FIVE passengers died after red tape regulations FORCED them onto a potentially faulty plane that then crashed in Colombia.
‘Hero’ pilot Mick Quiroga asked if Brazil’s top-tier Chapecoense football team, who were travelling over the border for a historic cup final, could be flown directly to the town of Medellin instead of having to stop over in Bolivia.
Investigators have found the plane’s two black boxes among the mangled wreckage deep inside the South American jungle.
But aviation authorities refused permission for a flight to take the direct route from Sao Paulo in Brazil to Medellin in Columbia.
A recorded phone call shows how the Bolivia-based LAMIA airline pilot pleaded with the mayor of Chapeco — home of the Chapecoense — to help him get permission for the more direct route.
He says: “I hired a Bolivian aeroplane to take us from Sao Paulo Guarulhos to Santa Cruz. I’ll be waiting here in Santa Cruz.
“This flight leaves 3pm local time in Sao Paulo, but the process of that other application that we did have leave for because we have approval to enter in Foz do Iguacu and go to Chapeco.
“Please Mayor, give us some help here for us to enter”.
But the airman was refused by Brazil‘s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) because of rules over flight services between countries.
“The transportation must be done by a Brazilian or Colombian company”, a ruling official said.
“I understand that there is a company already in place to carry out the flight. That being the case, I deny authorisation.”
After already paying for the LAMIA flight, it meant the team had to fly from Brazil and change over to board the doomed plane in Bolivia, from where they set off on Monday night.
‘Micky’ Quiroga died along with 75 others when the British-made plane plunged into a remote forested area near the town of La Ceja.
Photographs taken from the cockpit of the ill-fated plane show a smiling Quiroga with some of the Chapecoense squad just hours before the disaster that left only five survivors.
He has been hailed as a hero for dumping fuel out of the plane’s tanks moments before it crashed to earth to prevent it going up in a deadly fireball.
Investigators are still at a loss as to what exactly caused the crash, but suspicions are that it was suffering electrical problems.
The head of the Colombian Civil Aeronautics communication, Uriel Bedoya, who has been on location at the crash site, confirmed that the accident investigation group has found the aircraft’s two black boxes.
Alfredo Bocanegra, from Aerocivil, published a photo on his Twitter of him holding one of them.
However experts, who will be assisted by UK authorities, were also looking into an account from one of the survivors that the plane had run out of fuel about five minutes from its expected landing at Jose Maria Cordova airport outside Medellin.
A spokesperson for Bolivia‘s civil aviation agency said that the plane underwent an inspection before departing for Colombia and reported no problems.
Seventy-six people were killed in what was the deadliest air disaster in the world this year.
Authorities struggled to rescue six survivors from the crash site near La Ceja, but one later died in hospital.
One of the brave survivors, goalkeeper Jakson Follmann, 24, has had his leg amputated in hospital.
The Brazilian keeper, who has yet to make an appearance for Chapecoense, is reportedly in critical condition.
Police confirmed the shocking death toll after hours of mixed reports suggested there had been dozens of survivors on the flight, which was filled with players and coaches from top-tier side Chapecoense Real.
Treacherous weather conditions severely hampered the rescue operation as ambulances struggled to reach the remote crash site.
Alan Ruschel, a defender on loan to Chapecoense from Internacional, was the first player named as a survivor.
He was taken to hospital with injuries as local emergency services braced for an influx of patients.
A snapchat video showing him with teammate and pal Danilo was posted online just before the crash.
Confirming his rescue, Ruchel’s sister Alissen said on Twitter:
“God is great and will look after you. Stay strong. You are a soldier.”
Player Jakson Follmann, journalist Rafael Hansel, flight attendant Ximena Suarez and technician Erwin Timiri were also named as survivors.
There were 72 passengers and nine crew were on board flight LMI2933.
The Brazilian First Division team, who had been described by coach Caio Júnior as “Brazil’s Leicester“, was on its way to the final of the Copa Sudamericana in Colombia — a game tipped as the biggest in its history.
Among the victims is Paulo Julio Clement, a Fox Sports presenter in Brazil and one of 21 journalists killed in the disaster.
Ambulance crews ferrying survivors to hospital were only able get to within 30 minutes walking distance of the remote crash site.
Rescuers had to stretcher the survivors on foot through thick fog.
They were then put into lorries and driven another 700 metres to waiting ambulances.
Some of the lorries were getting bogged down in mud making the panicked rescue even more difficult.
Hypothermia was another concern for emergency services rushing to rescue survivors from freezing temperatures of below 5°C.
The plane — a British Aerospace 146 aircraft that was built in the UK — crashed at around 10:15pm local time in Cerro Gordo, La Union.
The same airline took the Argentina team with Lionel Messi on board for their last match in Brazil.
It was travelling to José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, the second largest airport in Colombia.
A statement from the airport said the plane declared an emergency and reported “electrical failures” after leaving Bolivia.
The ‘hero’ pilot is reported to have opened the fuel door as the plane crashed to prevent it from going up in flames.
However, a flight attendant has allegedly claimed the plane ran out of fuel, providing another avenue for investigators.
Medellin’s mayor Federico Gutierrez described the crash as “a tragedy of huge proportions”.
The team were pictured sitting in the cabin shortly before take off, while a video shows players gathering at their departure gate.
Chapecoense was headed to the Copa Sudamericana finals in Colombia.
They were due to compete against Atlético Nacional at 6:45pm local time on Wednesday at Atanasio Girardot stadium in Medellín.
The team were only about five minutes from their destination when they crashed.
Local radio said the team were due to stay at the four-star Hotel San Fernando, an elegant hotel near Medellin’s Botanical Garden.
South American football confederation CONMEBOL has suspended the tournament.
Credits: The Sun UK
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