Colombia plane crash: passengers were not told to wear seatbelts, survivor says

Colombia plane crash

A survivor of a plane crash in Colombia that killed 71 people says the pilot never told passengers to fasten their seatbelt before the aircraft smashed into a hillside.

Brazilian radio journalist Rafael Henzel spoke with Fantastico program Sunday night from Colombia, where he is recovering.

“At no point did someone from the cabin or the crew tell us, ‘Put on your seatbelts’,” said Henzel. “We just kept flying without any idea of what was about to happen.”

The plane took off from Santa Cruz, Bolivia and crashed near the airport in Medellín, Colombia on 28 November. Only six of the 77 passengers on board survived. The dead included 19 members of the Chapecoense soccer club from southern Brazil and 20 of the journalists covering the team. The survivors were two Bolivian crew members and four Brazilians – Henzel and three soccer players.

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Investigations have been launched in Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia. Colombian authorities have said they believe a lack of fuel caused the crash.

Henzel said that toward the end of the flight, passengers around him began asking how long it would be before they landed.

“Ten minutes” was the response from the crew, he said. “Then suddenly, the lights went off and the engines went off.”

At that point, everyone rushed back to their seats and fastened their seatbelts, said Henzel. Then the plane crashed into a hillside.

Henzel said when he awoke, there were emergency workers around him and he was in immense pain from what turned out to be seven broken ribs. He called out to the colleagues who had been sitting on each side of him, but they had died.

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He said he believed he survived thanks to a miracle and the good fortune to wake up just as emergency workers passed by.

Henzel said he was sickened to learn the cause of the accident was likely a lack of fuel.

“People died because of a lack of judgment,” he said. “That is revolting.”



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