A Polish airliner operated by the state airline, Lot, crashed on approach to Warsaw airport on Friday (14 March) killing all eighty-seven people on board.
SV PULL BACK TO GV Wreckage and rescue workers
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Background: A Polish airliner operated by the state airline, Lot, crashed on approach to Warsaw airport on Friday (14 March) killing all eighty-seven people on board. Among the victims were twenty members of an American boxing team arriving for a match in Poland.
SYNOPSIS: Eyewitnesses said the plane, a Soviet-built Ilyushin-62, was one and a half kilometres from Okecie airport when it crashed. The wreckage landed in the middle of a 19th century fortress close to modern military installation on the outskirts of the Polish capital.
In all, twenty three Americans on the plane were killed. They included the fourteen amateur boxers and six officials accompanying them. It was the worst disaster involving American athletes in ten years.
A spokesman for the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union said in New York that the boxers were on their way to a three-day match with the Polish national team in Warsaw. With team were doctors, referees and coaches. The American Embassy said the flight had originated in New York.
A Lot official in New York said the plane had left John F. Kennedy airport after being delayed for two hours by a snowstorm. It was due to fly direct to Warsaw and land shortly before noon local time.
Following the crash, the mayor of Warsaw declared two days of mourning in the capital. It was believed that most other victims were Polish, although officials were having difficulty identifying many of the bodies. The four-engined Ilyushin virtually disintegrated on impact, and eye-witnesses said they believed the passengers and crew must have been killed instantly. Polish officials said they had no idea what had caused the crash.
In 1970 two separate air crashes in the United States killed a total of 59 college soccer players within a period of six weeks.