Russian Plane Crash Kills 43, Including World Hockey Stars

Posted September 8th, 2011 at 12:31 am (UTC-5)
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A private Russian jet carrying a professional ice hockey team crashed shortly after takeoff Wednesday in western Russia, killing at least 43 people.

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 were critically injured.

Officials say the Yak-42 passenger plane with 45 people on board crashed immediately after takeoff from the city of Yaroslavl, about 240 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

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

News reports say Russian player Alexander Galimov survived the crash. Among those killed were team members from Belarus, Canada, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Sweden.

The world of ice hockey reacted with shock and grief.

The plane crash took place as scholars from more than 30 countries gathered in Yaroslavl for an international policy forum, which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was to attend on Thursday. A spokeswoman for the president said Mr. Medvedev will adjust his schedule to visit the scene of the tragedy.

Russia's Emergency Ministry said the dead include Lokomotiv coach and former international hockey star Brad McCrimmon, a Canadian, as well as Pavol Demitra a former Slovakian national team captain, who was a three-time NHL all-star. Czech players Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek and Jan Marek, Swedish goalie Stefan Liv, Latvian defenseman Karlis Skrastins and defenseman Ruslan Salehi of Belarus also were killed.

The cause of the crash has not yet been determined. It is the latest in a series of fatal transportation accidents that has prompted Russian leaders to order a review of the country's infrastructure and safety measures.

Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea.