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1958: United players killed in air disaster

VIDEO : BBC News reports the Munich air crash

Seven Manchester United footballers are among 21 dead after an air crash in Munich.

The British European Airways (BEA) plane caught fire shortly after take off this afternoon with 38 passengers and six crew on board.

The footballing world is reeling from the loss of some of its most talented young players - known as the Busby Babes.

Their average age was 24 and they included Roger Byrne - the captain - Mark Jones, Eddie Colman, Tommy Taylor, Liam Whelan, David Pegg and Geoff Bent.

Queen 'deeply shocked'

Eight British sports journalists and several club officials have also been killed.

The Queen has said she is "deeply shocked" and has sent a message of condolence to the Lord Mayor of Manchester and Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation.

The chartered aircraft was bringing the Manchester United entourage back from a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade in Yugoslavia and had stopped at Munich's Riem Airport to refuel.

On the third attempt to take off the plane over-shot the runway, hit a house with its port wing, veered to the right, hit another building and burst into flames.

The fuselage did not catch fire and several crew and passengers went back into the wreckage to rescue the injured.

Team manager Matt Busby was described as being the most seriously hurt and is being given blood transfusions in hospital.

Star striker Bobby Charlton has been treated for slight head injuries.

According to the Chief Executive of BEA, A. H. Milward, there was a heavy snowstorm in Munich and the pilot delayed departure because he was dissatisfied with one of the plane's engines.

This was the first fatal accident for this type of BEA aeroplane, which has carried 2,340,000 passengers on 86,000 flights since it began service in 1952.

The same plane - called Lord Burghley - took the Manchester United entourage out to Belgrade on Monday.

In Context
Messages of sympathy poured in from around the world and clubs across the UK and Europe held two minutes silence at the games on the Saturday following the accident.

Red Star Belgrade, the team the Manchester United side had beaten before the crash, suggested they be made honorary champions in the 1958 European Cup.

Another player, Duncan Edwards, died in hospital 15 days later.

Manchester United battled to complete the season and reached the 1958 FA Cup final - where they were beaten by Bolton Wanderers.

A decade later Manchester United became the first English club to win the European Cup.

An investigation into the crash initially suggested pilot error, saying Captain James Thain had taken off without de-icing the wings.

He was later cleared when it was found that the build-up of slush on the runway had prevented the plane taking-off. New safety limits were subsequently introduced.


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