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Few airplane accidents can compare with the one above Croatia on September 10th 1976 where 176 people lost their lives. On that day, around 11:14, at the altitude of around 10.000 meters, airplanes Douglas DC-9 of Aviopromet company and Hawker Siddeley Trident 3B of British Airways company collided.
162 passengers and 14 crew members lost their lives from both planes.
The plane of British Airways, on flight 476, flew from London's Hitrou Airport and was on its way to Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. It contained 54 passengers and nine crew members. The plane of Inex-Adria Aviopromet on flight 550 was on the way from Split to the airport of Cologne-Bonn, in former West Germany. In that plane, there were 108 passengers and five crew members. The aircraft were run by experienced pilots, who had more than 10,000 flight hours.
The culprit for an accident was Air Traffic Control in Zagreb. At that time, Yugoslavia was among nonaligned countries, more or less in good relations with both the East and the West. As one of the consequences of this, but also the fact that Yugoslavia is in a strategic position, there was a dense air traffic.
However, the technology used by the air traffic controllers was old and insufficiently good. In addition, professional people lacked in those years who could perform this intricate job.
In the end, air traffic controllers said one of the plane not to rise but it was too late. If the information was delivered a few seconds earlier, the accident could be avoided.
Gradimir Tasic, a twenty-eight-year-old flight controller, was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison. But the sentence will soon be reduced because of the rebellion of his colleagues. Namely, he was working three days in a row in 12 hours shifts, as we mentioned, there was a shortage of workers.
Corpses were falling down the sky
Citizens of Vrbovac can't forget the scenes that happened in the sky above their heads. Judging by the later testimonies, there was a large explosion at first, something like a thunder. However, they saw parts of the planes falling down in the area of few kilometers, bags, bottles and similar things.
But, the most terrifying were the bodies falling from the sky. Some were dismemberment, and some were falling down in their seats, still with a tied seatbelt.
The most numerous among the dead were the Germans, in particular, the residents of West Germany who returned from vacation. That's why this accident was a great news for the world public.
The families of the dead were visiting the plane crash for a long time after the accident, and in one place there was a small cross that symbolized the memory of the same. Over 40 years have passed since this accident and fewer families come to visit the site, so this accident is slowly falling into oblivion.
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