Zambians feared dead in air crash

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The Independent Online
THE majority of Zambia's football team, one of the best of the emerging African nations, are feared to have have died in a plane crash off the coast of Gabon. A Zambian Air Force plane flying 25 players and officials and five other passengers to Senegal for a World Cup match on Sunday came down in the sea just after a refuelling stop on Tuesday night in Libreville, the capital of Gabon. No survivors have been found.

Zambia's three European-based players were not on the flight: Kalusha Bwalya of PSV Eindhoven, Charles Musonda of Anderlect and Johnson Bwalya of the Swiss club, Bulle. Among the 18 players lost was Kelvin Mutale, who scored a hat-trick in Zambia's 3-0 win in an African Nations' Cup qualifier in Mauritius last weekend.

The Zambians were favoured to claim one of Africa's three places at next year's World Cup finals. At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, they produced one of the results of the tournament: a 4-0 win over Italy. Some of the players from that game were on the lost flight.

World football's governing body, Fifa, expressed 'immense sorrow' at the disaster and asked all countries playing World Cup matches this week to observe a minute's silence. Sunday's match in Dakar has been 'postponed for an indefinite period'. A spokesman for the Confederation of African Football said: 'Zambian football has been tragically ruined. It has lost its elite. It is a terrible catastrophe for all the continent's football.'