The Chipolopolo Tragedy

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Kalusha Bwalya(right) and the Zambian flag(left)

On This Day In 1993, a plane carrying the Zambian national team players and officials crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing everyone on board(30 persons, including passengers and crew). The plane, a military DHC-5 Buffalo(transport aircraft of the Zambian Air Force), was carrying the team to Senegal for a FIFA World Cup qualifying match and had just stopped in Libreville, Gabon to refuel. Shortly after take-off, it lost power and crashed into the water.

The only team member not killed in the crash was their captain, Kalusha Bwalya(pictured right), who was in the Netherlands playing for PSV Eindhoven and had made separate flight arrangements to get to Senegal. The members of the national team killed in the crash were buried in what became known as “Heroes’ Acre”, just outside the Independence Stadium in Lusaka. Despite the tragedy, Zambia still managed to finish as runners-up at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations.

In 2012, Zambia won the Africa Cup of Nations in Libreville, only a few hundred metres inland from the crash site; the victory was dedicated to the ones who lost their lives in the tragedy.

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