The pilot of the plane that crashed in Colombia had radioed he was running out of fuel and in an emergency, according to a recording of his final communications.
Only six on board the LAMIA Bolivia charter flight survived, including three of the Chapecoense squad en route to the biggest game in their history: the Copa Sudamericana final.
“Miss, LAMIA 933 is in total failure, total electrical failure, without fuel,” the Bolivian pilot Miguel Quiroga is heard telling a control tower operator at Medellin airport on the crackly audio played by Colombian media.
“Fuel emergency, Miss,” he added, requesting urgent permission to land.
Investigators from Brazil flew in to join Colombian counterparts checking two black boxes and cockpit voice recordings from the crash site on a muddy hillside in wooded highlands near La Union town.
Bolivia, where the charter company LAMIA was based, and the United Kingdom also sent in experts to help the investigation.
The Chapocoense football team – and an accompanying entourage of staff – were among 77 passengers and crew onboard the aircraft. A large number of journalists were also on the plane.
All six survivors were being treated at local hospitals. Of the players who survived, goalkeeper Jackson Follmann was recovering from the amputation of his right leg, doctors said.
Defender Helio Neto remained in intensive care with severe trauma to his skull, thorax and lungs.
And fellow defender Alan Ruschelhad had surgery for spinal injuries.
Another survivor, Bolivian flight technician Erwin Tumiri, said he only saved himself by strict adherence to security procedure, while others panicked.
“Many passengers got up from their seats and started yelling,” he told Colombia’s Radio Caracol. “I put the bag between my legs and went into the fetal position as recommended.”
By nightfall on Tuesday, rescuers had recovered most of the bodies of the dead, which were to be repatriated to Brazil and to Bolivia, where all the plane’s nine-person crew were from.
Locals are accustomed to planes flying overhead at all hours, but many were disturbed by the massive crash noise that interrupted their sleep and evening television.
“It came over my house, but there was no noise, the engine must have gone,” said Nancy Munoz, 35, a resident of the area.
“I thought it was a bomb, because the FARC rebels used to attack military infrastructure here. Then we heard the rescuers arriving,” said her husband Fabian.
Meanwhile, Brazil declared three days of mourning.
Chapecoense’s opponents, Atletico Nacional of Medellin, asked for the tournament to be awarded to the Brazilians in honour of the dead.
Fellow top division Brazilian sides also showed solidarity, offering loan players to Chapecoense, and urging the national federation to give it a three-year stay against relegation while the club got back on its feet.
Global soccer greats from Lionel Messi to Pele sent condolences.
It was an appalling twist to a fairy-tale story for Chapecoense, which rose since 2009 from Brazil’s fourth to top division and was about to play the biggest match in its history in the first leg of the regional cup final.
Distraught fans gathered around the team’s Conda stadium in Chapeco, a city of about 200,000 people in southern Brazil.