When a passenger plane crashed in Columbia in late November, it was a tragedy for the Chapecoense soccer team. The Brazilian club was on board the flight. 71 of the 77 people on the plane died in the crash. And now, as if the crash wasn’t bad enough, the surviving members of the team are being fined $30,000 for missing their last match of the season.
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Reports paint a horrific picture of the crash. Survivors say the crew never issued warnings about the impending disaster. Rafael Henzel, a journalist who had been traveling with the soccer team, is one of six survivors of Avro RJ85.
“No one told us to fasten our seat belts,” he said. “Every time we asked when we’d arrive we were told, ‘Ten minutes.’ Then the lights and the engines went off. That scared us somewhat, but we weren’t warned of anything. We didn’t know what was going on.”
“People died because of a lack of judgment,” he said. “That is revolting.”
The team was en route to the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional. 19 members of the team were killed, but three lived. Alan Luciano Ruschel, Jackson Ragnar Follmann and Helio Hermito Zampier Neto.
Reports on why the plane crash all point to human error. The plane ran out of fuel–exactly why is what’s being questioned. Some reports suggest that the plane idled on the runway–burning fuel–while crew members searched for one of the player’s video game.
Another theory is that the plane was supposed to land at an airport in Bolivia to refuel, but that the airport had shut down at midnight.
Bolivian Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira has been critical of those who are calling this an accident. “This was definitely no accident. This was a homicide. What happened in Medellin was murder,” Ferreira said.
“Obviously, if the pilot had complied with the regulation, which is to land in Cobija or Bogota (Colombia), or had at least declared an emergency from the beginning, before he was about to have an accident, it’s possible this tragedy would not have happened,” he said.
For the three survivors, the story keeps getting harder to believe. ESPN Deportes reported that the team is being fined $29,850 by Brazilian Football Confederation for having missed their last game.