Chapecoense air crash survivor: 'Crew gave no warning'

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The LaMia plane crashed into a hillside near the Colombian city of Medellin on 28 November

A survivor of the plane crash in Colombia in which 71 people were killed including most of Brazil's Chapecoense football team says the crew never gave the passengers any warning.

Rafael Henzel, a 43-year-old journalist travelling with Chapecoense on board the LaMia plane, said they were not even told to fasten their seatbelts.

Mr Henzel is one of only six people to survive the crash on 28 November.

Investigators believe the plane crashed because it ran out of fuel.

In his first interview since the accident, Mr Henzel told Brazil's Fantastico TV programme that the passengers had no warning of the impending crash.

"No one told us to fasten our seat belts," he said. "Every time we asked when we'd arrive we were told '10 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," Mr Henzel said.

He recalled how people rushed back to their seats when the plane went dark. But he said that no-one had expected the plane to crash.

Return home

The journalist described sitting in the penultimate row of the plane, between journalist Renan Agnolin and cameraman Djalma Araujo Neto.

He said the saddest moment for him was when he realised that the two colleagues who had been sitting at either side of him had died.

Mr Henzel broke seven ribs in the crash and was the penultimate passenger to be rescued, when hope of finding any more survivors was already fading.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Football fans in Brazil have been paying tribute to the players who died

He said he saw their torch lights and shouted out to alert them to his presence.

He praised the efforts of the Colombian emergency workers and their work in the difficult terrain in the rain and dark.

He and two other Brazilian survivors of the crash, players Jakson Follmann and Alan Ruschel, are expected to be flown from Colombia to Brazil in the coming days.

Chapecoense player Neto is still in the intensive care unit of a Colombian hospital.

Bolivian crew members Ximena Sanchez and Erwin Tumiri have already returned to Bolivia.

On Sunday, football teams across Brazil held tributes to the 19 Chapecoense players who died in the plane crash.