The flight had been specially arranged by the Zambian Air Force for the football team. The journey was scheduled to make three refueling stops; the first at Brazzaville, Congo, the second at Libreville, Gabon, and the third at Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
At the first stop in Brazzaville engine problems were noted. Despite this, the flight continued and a few minutes after taking off from the second stop in Libreville the left engine caught fire and failed.
The aircraft entered service in 1975. The plane had been out of service for five months from late 1992 until 21 April 1993. Test flights were carried out on 22 April and 26 April. Prior to the departure for Senegal, checks revealed a number of defects in the engine: carbon particles in oil filters, disconnected cables and trace of heating. However the flight went ahead as scheduled.
The Chipolopolo were a very promising Zambia National Team. At the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul they thrashed Italy 4-0. They had their eyes on the 1993 Africa Cup of Nations trophy and a place at their first World Cup. All 30 passengers and crew, including 18 players, as well as the national team coach and support staff, died in the accident.
The Chipolopolo’s captain, Kalusha Bwalya—later national team coach and now president of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ)—was not aboard the ill-fated flight as he was in the Netherlands playing for PSV at that time and had made separate arrangements to make his own way to Senegal to take part in the match.
A campaign to have the Gabonese crash investigation publicly released continued into the 2000s. In November 2003 a preliminary crash investigation report was released by the Gabonese government. Despite this, relatives of the victims continue to lobby the Zambian government to produce a report on how the aircraft was allowed to leave Zambia.
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. A new side was quickly assembled, and led by Kalusha Bwalya, faced up to the difficult task of having to complete Zambia’s World Cup qualifiers and then prepare for the upcoming African Nations Cup which was only months away.
In 2012, Zambia won their Africa Cup of Nations in Libreville, only a few hundred metres inland from the crash site and was dedicated to the ones who lost their lives in the tragedy. Zambia beat Côte d’Ivoire 8-7 in a penalty shoot out after the game ended 0-0 after normal and injury time.
List of Victims
Colonel Fenton M hone (pilot)
Lt Colonel Victor Mubanga (pilot)
Lt Colonel James Sachika (pilot)
Warrant Officer Edward Nambote (fitter)
Corporal Tomson Sakala ( steward)
Efford Chabala (goalkeeper)
John Soko (defender)
Whiteson Changwe (defender)
Robert Watiyakeni (defender)
Eston Mulenga (midfielder)
Derby Makinka (midfielder)
Moses Chikwalakwala (midfielder)
Wisdom Mumba Chansa (midfielder)
Kelvin “Malaza” Muta le (striker)
Timothy Mwitwa (striker)
Numba Mwila (midfielder)
Richard Mwanza (goalkeeper)
Samuel Chomba (defender)
Moses Masuwa (striker)
Kenan Simambe (defender)
Godfrey Kangwa (midfielder)
Winter Mumba (defender)
Patrick “Bomber” Banda (striker)
Godfrey “Ucar” Chitalu (coach)
Alex Chola (assistant coach)
Wilson Mtonga (doctor)
Michael Mwape (FAZ Chairman)
Nelson Zimba (public servant)
Joseph Bwalya Salim (journalist)