Medvedev Demands Russian Airline Reforms Following Crash

Posted September 8th, 2011 at 5:35 am (UTC-5)
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday called for tough reforms of the country's airline industry while visiting the site of an airplane crash that killed one of the country's top ice hockey teams.

Mr. Medvedev said Russia should drastically reduce the number of airlines operating in the country, quickly replace its aging fleet of domestic aircraft, and provide better training for flight crews. President Medvedev added that if Russia could not produce reliable aircraft it would have to buy foreign-made planes.

Meanwhile, rescue workers have recovered the bodies of all 43 people who died Wednesday when their private Yak-42 passenger plane crashed into the banks of the Volga River in the city of Yaroslavl, about 240 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

On the plane were members of Russia's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team, many of them international hockey stars. Several coaches and club officials were also killed. One player and a member of the crew remain in critical condition.

The ice hockey team was heading to the Belarusian capital, Minsk, for its opening game of the season.

President Medvedev Thursday ordered a thorough probe into the cause of the crash, which is the latest in a series of fatal plane disasters and transport accidents in the country.

Last month, 11 people died when an Antonov-12 cargo plane crashed after trying to make an emergency landing in Russia's far northeastern region of Siberia. In June, a Soviet-built Tupolev passenger crashed in northwest Russia, killing 45 people.