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Munich Joined Manchester in Remembering 1958 Air Disaster

The mayor of the Bavarian capital and the chairman of Bayern Munich commemorated the 50th anniversary of a plane crash that killed eight Manchester United players.

Rummenigge lays wreath

Bayern chariman Rummenigge laid a wreath for the victims

At a ceremony held at Trudering, the district of Munich that was site of the 1958 crash, Mayor Christian Ude characterized the disaster as the worst-ever incident of its kind in his city. Ude added that the crash victims would never be forgotten, and that Munich would do everything it could to keep their memory alive.

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was among the many German and English soccer functionaries in attendance.

On Feb. 6, 1958, a propeller-driven British Airways plane that Manchester United was using to travel back from a European Cup semi-final in Belgrade crashed on its third attempt at taking off from Munich's airport. The plane had stopped amidst poor weather conditions in the Bavarian capital for re-fuelling.

Statue of Busby in front of Busby Babes poster

A statue of former Man U Manager Matt Busby, stands in front of a poster of the Busby Babes outside Old Trafford

Then Manchester United coach Matt Busby survived the accident, but eight players died, devastating a squad known as the "Busby Babes" for its young age. Fifteen other people also lost their lives in what was a general human, not just a sports tragedy.

Only 21 of the 44 people on board the plane survived.

German investigators initially blamed the crash on ice that had built up on the plane's wings. But a later investigation said snow on the runway had prevented the aircraft from taking off.

Sad day in Manchester

The Munich memorials coincided with a remembrance at Old Trafford, Manchester United's home stadium.

The ceremony was led by United's club chaplain and included a speech by Man U legend and crash survivor Bobby Charlton as well as a message from Prince Charles.

Manchester United also unveiled a permanent exhibit devoted to the Busby Babes in the Old Trafford's South Stand Tunnel, which is to be renamed Munich Tunnel.

Manchester United are scheduled to play local rivals Manchester City this weekend. Both teams plan to wear 1950s-style uniforms without advertising to pay tribute to the victims of what became known in English soccer as the "Munich air disaster."

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