Zambian plane disaster report still not out 17 years later

30 Apr 2010
Lusaka - Zambia has not been able to release the Gabon air disaster report in the past 17 years in which soccer players and officials died enroute to their world cup encounter in Senegal because of diplomatic setbacks. Speaking on April 28 to commemorate the 17th anniversary since Zambian footballers and officials perished off the shores of Gabon in West Africa, Deputy Minister of Sport Maynard Misapa said the report will be released after the diplomatic matters have been dealt with. He did not give details. Misapa said Government realized and regrets that it had taken long for the report to be availed to the families and the nation but was optimistic that the matter would be resolved amicably. “At an opportune time, the government will eventually avail the report, after the necessary diplomatic matters have been dealt with,” Misapa said. “We realize that it has taken very long but there are good reasons why government has been treading with caution over the matter.” The national soccer players and officials died on April 28, 1993, in Libreville on their way to Senegal for a World Cup qualifier.The Havilland Buffalo DHC-5, which was carrying 30 people, among them 18 national team players, exploded in midair and plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Libreville. Misapa also urged the football family to organise activities which will best help the nation remember the fallen heroes. “This can be in form of an international friendly match or any such activity that would suit such an occasion,” he said. He said there is need to remember April 28 with reflection that enables people to look back at the lives of the deceased with a sense of gratitude and joy for what they achieved. Misapa said Government will remain focused on supporting sport and football because of the great soccer heritage of the country. “Football, I must mention, defines our way of life. It is part of our daily lives and a sport loved by many,” Misapa said. He said the fallen heroes were instrumental in the development of football in the country and ensuring that the team reached great heights. Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya said the victims of the Gabon air disaster were gallant men who died for a good cause. Kalusha said the FAZ executive committee is thinking of establishing a fund for the memorial services, to which the association will be contributing money to assist the bereaved families.