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Tragic Air Disasters Involving Sports Teams

Rescue workers recover a body from the wreckage site of the LaMia chartered airplane crash, in La Union, a mountainous area near Medellin, Colombia.(AP File Photo

Rescue workers recover a body from the wreckage site of the LaMia chartered airplane crash, in La Union, a mountainous area near Medellin, Colombia.(AP File Photo

Here are some other crashes that involved sports teams around the world.

January 24, 2021, witnessed yet another air disaster involving a sports team. The president of Palmas football club and four of its players were killed on Sunday when a small plane taking them to a Brazilian cup game crashed on take-off. The fourth tier club said president Lucas Meira, along with players Lucas Praxedes, Guilherme Noe, Ranule and Marcus Molinari, all died. The pilot, named only as Wagner, was also killed.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that such an incident has happened. Here are some other crashes that involved sports teams around the world:

1949: Torino Football Club

On May 4, 1949, a Fiat aeroplane carrying the Torino football team slammed into a mountain peak and crashed on the outskirts of Turin, Italy, killing all 31 passengers on board. This crash is still considered one of the worst tragedies in the history of Italian sports. Grande Torino (The Great Torino), as the team was called, were in position for a fifth straight league title.

1958: Manchester United

On February 6, 1958, a plane carrying the Manchester United team crashed as it was taking off from Munich’s airport. Of the 44 people on board, 23 died, including eight players. To commemorate the loss, a clock at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester was kept frozen at 3:04 p.m, the time of the crash.

The team, nicknamed the Busby Babes after manager Matt Busby, had won back-to-back First Division titles in the previous two seasons and was returning from a 3-3 draw with Red Star Belgrade which ensured United’s passage into the European Cup semi-finals for the second year running.

1961: United States Figure Skating Team

The 18-member team was on its way to the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague on Feb. 15 when the Sabena plane it was aboard plunged into a field in Belgium. The entire team was killed. The victims included Laurence Owen, who had won the women’s title at the United States Figure Skating Championships about a month earlier.

1970: Marshall University Football Team

A Southern Airways DC-9, flying on Nov. 14 toward Tri-State Airport in West Virginia, hit the tops of pine trees, crashed into a mountainside and exploded. There were no survivors among the 75 people on board.: Thirty-eight members of the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team were killed.   The crash was the subject of a 2006 film, "We Are Marshall."

1977: University of Evansville Basketball Team

A chartered DC-3 carrying 31 people, including the basketball team from the University of Evansville in Indiana, crashed and burned on December 13, 1977, after taking off in heavy fog and rain. Among the dead were all of the team’s players and its coach, Bobby Watson. The victims are commemorated with a statue called the "Weeping Basketball" in the Memorial Plaza at the university.

1987: Alianza Lima, Peruvian Football Team

A Navy plane carrying Peru’s first-division football team Alianza Lima plunged into the Pacific Ocean on December 8, 1987, killing 16 players and the team’s coach. The plane was returning to the capital from a game in Pucallpa, a jungle city 355 miles northeast, where Alianza had moved into first place with a 1-0 victory.

1993: Zambian National Football Team

Zambia’s national team travelled to Dakar on April 27, 1993, to play Senegal in a  World Cup qualifiers. However, the plane never arrived. It crashed over the Atlantic after refuelling in Libreville, the capital of Gabon. Eighteen players and five officials from the team were killed. In 2012, Zambia won the Africa Cup of Nations in Libreville, a moment of resilience that was dedicated to those who had lost their lives.

2011: Yaroslavl Lokomotiv Hockey Team

A Russian airliner chartered by one of the country’s elite hockey teams, Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, crashed during takeoff on Sept. 7 near the city of Yaroslavl, killing all but two of the 45 people on board, including 27 players, two coaches and seven club officials. Lokomotiv was a three-time Russian champion. The crash not only represented a huge setback for Russian hockey but also drew attention to Russia’s history of air safety problems.

2016: Chapacoense Football team

A plane carrying Brazilian football team Chapecoense crashed on approach to Medellin, Colombia, on November 28, 2016, killing 71 of the 77 people on board. They were en route to attend the 2016 Copa Sudamericana Finals against Atletico Nacional. Among those killed were: 19 players, 14 club staff members, 9 club board members and 4 Fox Sports Brazil journalists.

2021: Palmas President and 4 players

The president of Palmas football club and four of its players were killed on Sunday when a small plane taking them to a Brazilian cup game crashed on take-off. The fourth tier club said president Lucas Meira, along with players Lucas Praxedes, Guilherme Noe, Ranule and Marcus Molinari, all died. The pilot, named only as Wagner, was also killed The players were travelling on a private plane because they had tested positive for COVID-19 while the rest of the team would travel on a commercial flight.

first published:January 25, 2021, 16:31 IST
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