A crew member who was pulled from the wreckage of the plane crash which wiped out nearly an entire Brazilian football team has said he survived by curling up into a ball just before impact.
Flight technician Erwin Tumiri spoke for the first time of the terrifying final moments of the CP-2933 plane, which plunged into a mountainside near Medellin in Colombia on Monday night.
Mr Tumiri, who suffered minor injuries, said those on board were aware the plane was in serious trouble moments before it crashed.
He told a radio station: ‘I saved myself because I followed the emergency protocol, putting bags between my legs and put myself in the foetal position.
‘I also saw how many passengers rose and began to scream.’
His comments came as Brazil began three days of national mourning yesterday (Wednesday) in memory of the 71 people killed in the disaster – including players from the Chapecoense club who were on their way to the final of the Copa Sudamericana championship.
The six survivors have been named as Mr Tumiri, journalist Rafael Valmorbida, flight attendant Ximena Suarez, and players Alan Ruschel, Helio Neto, and Jackson Follmann.
Mr Ruschel, who is in intensive care in hospital, reportedly called out ‘My family, my friends, where are they?’ as he was pulled from the jet’s smouldering remains by rescuers.
Ms Suarez was reportedly found several hours after the crash near the wreckage.
The stewardess said she was struggling to remember the horrifying moment, but told newspaper El Colombiano: ‘The plane went out completely and had a sharp decline, followed by a big impact.’
The plane’s black boxes have been recovered from the scene and an investigation into the cause of the crash has been launched.
Theories include an electrical fault and the plane running out of fuel.
One report said the plane developed an electrical fault and requested an emergency landing, but then ran out of fuel because it was circling the airport while it waited for another plane to land first.