Fam­i­lies pre­pare to re­ceive the dead

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGEN­CIES in Medellin, Colom­bia

Fam­i­lies are prepar­ing to re­ceive the bod­ies of the vic­tims of this week’s air tragedy in Colom­bia as ex­perts de­velop a clearer pic­ture of how things went so ter­ri­bly wrong with a char­ter flight that slammed into a moun­tain­side.

Many of the 71 killed were play­ers and coaches from a small-city Brazil­ian soc­cer team that was headed to the fi­nals of one of South Amer­ica’s most pres­ti­gious tour­na­ments after a fairy-tale sea­son that had cap­ti­vated their soc­cer-crazed na­tion.

On Thursday, white sheets printed with the logo of the Chapoc­oense soc­cer club lay over row upon row of cas­kets at a Medellin fu­neral home. Most of the re­mains had been iden­ti­fied and were ex­pected to be flown home on Fri­day.

Bo­li­vian avi­a­tion of­fi­cials an­nounced they were in­def­i­nitely sus­pend­ing the char­ter com­pany that op­er­ated the flight after a record­ing of con­ver­sa­tions be­tween a pi­lot of the doomed flight and air traf- fic con­trollers, as well as the ac­count of a sur­viv­ing flight at­ten­dant, in­di­cated the plane ran out of fuel. The jet, which took off from Santa Cruz, Bo­livia, was fly­ing at its max­i­mum range when it crashed late Mon­day, killing all but six of the 77 peo­ple on board.

In Brazil, rel­a­tives of the dead spoke out in dis­be­lief.

Osmar Machado, whose son, Filipe, a de­fender on the Chapecoense team, died on his fa­ther’s 66th birth­day, ques­tioned why the plane was trans­port­ing the team.

“Profit brings greed,” Machado said, speak­ing in the team’s home­town of Chapeco. “This plane ended (the lives of ) 71 peo­ple.”

Wil­liams Brasil­iano, un­cle of mid­fielder Arthur Maia, said the crash could have been avoided if the team had cho­sen a com­mer­cial flight and not a char­ter.

“Look how com­pli­cated that flight was go­ing to be even if it had ar­rived,” Brasil­iano said tear­fully of the team’s itin­er­ary, which in­cluded a flight from Sao Paulo to Bo­livia on a com­mer­cial air­liner be­fore the ill­fated flight to Medellin.

“I doubt that a big­ger club would have done the same,” he added.

Chapecoense spokesman An­drei Copetti de­fended the de­ci­sion, say­ing more than 30 teams had used the Bo­livi­abased com­pany, LaMia air­lines, in­clud­ing the na­tional teams of Ar­gentina and Bo­livia. He added that the team it­self had flown on its flights be­fore.

“They had a good ser­vice then. It was the air­line that got in touch with us be­cause they have ex­pe­ri­ence in do­ing these long flights in South Amer­ica,” he said.

Bri­tish avi­a­tion author­i­ties said the flight data and cock­pit voice recorders re­cov­ered from the ac­ci­dent site are be­ing taken to Bri­tain for study.

DOU­GLAS MAGNO / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Peo­ple pay trib­ute to the Brazil­ian soc­cer play­ers in Santa Cata­rina, Brazil, on Thursday. The play­ers were among 71 peo­ple who died in the air tragedy in Colom­bia this week.

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