On this day in 1993 a plane carrying one of the best assembled teams of all time crashed into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after taking off from Libreville, Gabon killing all 25 passengers and five crew members on board.
A DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft was carrying the Zambian national football team en route to Dakar, Senegal for a FIFA World Cup Qualifier match.
The 18 players on board, coaching staff, Zambian FA president, a Journalist and a public servant all perished.
An official report into crash blamed a mechanical fault. The pilots are also believed to have mistakenly switched off the still functioning right engine because of a “poor indicator light bulb” causing the plane to lose all power and crash.
All the Gabon disaster victims were buried just outside Independence Stadium in Lusaka, at a special monument called Heroes’ Acre.
Three people who were due to be on the plane but survived the crash include Zambian legend Kalusha Bwalya who travelled separately to Dakar to meet up with the squad from his base in Europe, where he played for Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
The other two are Charles Musonda who was asked to decline the call up by then Anderlecht’s team manager, Michel Verschueren so that he can play for his club which Musonda did and therefore missed the fateful flight.
Bennett Mulwanda Simfukwe, who had been seconded to the FAZ by his employers wasn’t on the flight because his employers demanded that he should immediately be removed from the list of those who were officially scheduled to travel to Senegal.
List of victims (players): Efford Chabala, Richard Mwanza, John Soko, Whiteson Changwe, Robert Watiyakeni, Eston Mulenga, Derby Makinka, Moses Chikwalakwala, Wisdom Mumba Chansa, Kelvin “Malaza” Mutale, Timothy Mwitwa, Numba Mwila, Samuel Chomba, Moses Masuwa, Kenan Simambe, Godfrey Kangwa, Winter Mumba, Patrick “Bomber” Banda.
Coaching staff: Godfrey “Ucar” Chitalu, Alex Chola, Wilson Mtonga, Wilson Sakala
Michael Mwape (FAZ Chairman), Nelson Zimba (public servant), Joseph Bwalya Salim (journalist)
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By Ofhani Munyai