Zambia marks anniversary of tragic plane crash

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Zambians are marking the 28th anniversary of the plane crash that killed its entire national football team with the victims’ families still demanding an investigation into the accident.

The players were travelling to Senegal for a 1994 World Cup qualifying match when their military plane blew off after a refuelling stop in Gabon.

All the people on board, including 18 players, died.

Despite the players’ families winning a compensation case in 2002 after a protracted legal battle, they are unhappy that the cause of the crash remains unknown.

“There will be no closure for us as long as the report is not out. Even if it takes 50 years, this matter will still be active,” Joyce Chabala, widow to late goalkeeper Efford, told the BBC.

“And the most disappointing thing is that the current president [Edgar Lungu] was our lawyer in the compensation case but even he has kept quiet after becoming president.”

Football consultant Ponga Liwewe, who was friends with most of the players who died, agrees with Joyce.

“The children of the deceased have now picked up the mantle in their quest to find out what went wrong but their pleas continue to fall on deaf ears,” Mr Liwewe told the BBC.

“It is sad that the families who have suffered from broken promises of financial support, arrogance from previous leaders, and public indifference, should continue to face three decades of unanswered questions.”

Zambian football legend and 1988 African Footballer of the Year, Kalusha Bwalya, tweeted his tribute:

To mark the day, retired players have this week been cleaning up the burial site of their heroes in Lusaka.

A commemorative match of retired players also took place on Wednesday.