Russia Mourns Crash Victims, Medvedev Demands Airline Reforms

Posted September 8th, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Russia is mourning victims of an airplane crash that killed one of the country's top ice hockey teams, as President Dmitry Medvedev called for tough reforms of the country's airline industry.

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.

He spoke while visiting the site of the crash in the city of Yaroslavl, about 240 kilometers northeast of Moscow, where thousands of fans have placed heaps of flowers in what has become a shrine for the team.

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 Yaroslavl.

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.

The chief of the Kontinental Hockey League says he is hopeful Lokomotiv Yaroslavl will be rebuilt in time to take part in this year's hockey season, with each team in the league volunteering players for a new Lokomotiv squad.

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.