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air crashes that rocked the sports world

The 1972 Andes plane crash involving Uruguay’s Old Christians rugby team, made famous by the fact that some of the survivors ate the remains of other victims, is just one of several aviation disasters to hit the sporting world since the dawn of air travel.

– 1949: Italy’s Grande Torino –

A plane carrying famed Italian football club Grande Torino crashed on its way back from Portugal on May 4, 1949, killing all 31 passengers and crew. A reported one million people poured into the streets of Turin to bid farewell to their heroes. Grande Torino were named Italian champions for the fifth time in a row. The crash had a devastating impact on the Italian national squad, which was dominated by Torino players. 

– 1958: England’s Manchester United –

Eight members of Manchester United’s celebrated “Busby Babes” team were among 23 people who died when their plane crashed after attempting to take off in poor conditions in Munich on February 6, 1958.

England superstar Duncan Edwards was among those killed, while Sir Bobby Charlton — who went on to win the World Cup with England — was hurt. Manager Matt Busby recovered from serious injuries and rebuilt United into a force that would win the European Cup a decade later, in 1968.

– 1961: US figure skating team –

The entire 18-member team died when their plane crashed in Belgium on February 15, 1961, on their way to compete at the World Championships in the former Czechoslovakia. Three members of a skating family were among the victims: US ladies champion Laurence Owens, 16, her sister Maribel, 20, and their mother and coach Maribel Vinson-Owen, an Olympic bronze medalist.

– 1969: Rocky Marciano –

American boxing legend Rocky Marciano was killed when his jet crashed into a tree as it was coming in to land in the US state of Iowa, on August 31, 1969. Marciano, 45 when he died, was world heavyweight champion between 1952 and 1956 and retired undefeated with a 49-0 record.

– 1987: Peru’s oldest football team  –

A Peruvian navy plane carrying 43 people, including players and staff from Alianza Lima, the country’s oldest football team, plunged into the ocean off Lima on December 8, 1987. 

The airliner was returning to the capital from the jungle city of Pucallpa when the pilot reported problems with the landing gear. He survived and was recovered after floating for hours in choppy seas.

– 1993: Zambian football team –

On April 27, 1993, an aircraft carrying Zambia’s national football team crashed into the sea shortly after take off from Gabon, en route to play Senegal in a World Cup qualifier, killing all 25 people on board. The team was recognized as one of the strongest ever fielded by the African nation, having thrashed Italy 4-0 at the 1988 Olympic Games. A report into the crash, issued a decade later, blamed pilot error and an engine problem.

– 2011: Russian ice hockey team –

A plane carrying top-tier Russian ice hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crashed due to pilot error…

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