Victims' relatives in Brazil say soccer-team crash avoidable

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Relatives of victims who died in an air crash that killed most the Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense spoke out in anger on Thursday, several saying the crash was avoidable.

Only six of the 77 passengers and crew survived, three of them players. Nineteen other players perished in the crash on Monday, a few kilometers (miles) from an airport Medellin, Colombia.

Recordings of conversations with the pilot and accounts of a surviving flight attendant, along with the lack of an explosion upon impact, indicated the plane — a BAE 146 Avro RJ85 — ran out of fuel.

Osmar Machado, the father of defender Filipe, questioned why this plane was used. His son died on his father's 66th birthday.

"Profit brings greed," he said. "Because of 30 kilometers this plane ended (the lives of) 71 people. But what can we do now? The owner of the plane died."

Experts have said the plane was at its maximum flight range — it departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia — when it crashed into a muddy mountainside.

The team was heading to play in the first of two matches in the final of the Copa Sudamerica, South America's No. 2 club tournament.

Williams Brasiliano, uncle of Chapecoense's midfielder Arthur Maia, said the crash was avoidable if Chapecoense had chosen a regular airline to travel to Colombia — not a charter.

"Look how complicated that flight was going to be even if it had arrived," Brasiliano said, tears in his eyes as he spoke. "Even if they had arrived, it is clear that they would be tired from the trip to play a final. This can't be right. I doubt that a bigger club would have done the same."

Chapecoense spokesman Andrei Copetti said that more than 30 clubs had used the service of the crashed jet, including Argentina and Bolivia.

The jet was run by charter company LaMia.

"LaMia also took us to Barranquilla (Colombia) to play against Junior," Copetti said. "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. We chose this company for technical reasons. All these rumors have to be discarded."

He said CONMEBOL, the governing body of South American football, was not involved in choosing LaMia. He said also said the city had no role.

He said the bodies had been identified in Colombia and would be flown back to Brazil on a Brazilian military plane. He did not say when they would arrive in Brazil.

Also on Thursday, the president of Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro said the team would not play its final-round match of the Brazilian league season against Chapecoense.

Chapecoense's acting president said earlier in the week that the head of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Marco Polo Del Nero, had ordered Chapecoense to play its final match using a team made up mostly of junior players.

"We believe in sport," Atletico Mineiro president Daniel Nepomuceno said. "We respect the pain. It's not the moment to demand that players" play this match.

Nepomuceno said he had talked with Del Nero, and said the CBF head had changed his mind.

Del Nero was widely criticized on social media for his earlier statements.