Fears for ice hockey team in Russian plane crash
A Russian jet carrying a top ice hockey team crashed just after takeoff, killing at least 43 people and leaving two others critically injured, officials said. It was one of the worst plane crashes ever involving a sports team.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the Yak-42 plane crashed into a riverbank on the Volga River immediately after leaving an airport near the western city of Yaroslavl, 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow. It was sunny at the time.
The plane was carrying the Lokomotiv ice hockey team from Yaroslavl to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where the team was to play Thursday against Dinamo Minsk in the opening game of the season for the Kontinental Hockey League. The ministry said the plane had 45 people on board, including 37 passengers and eight crew.
Officials said Russian player Alexander Galimov survived the crash along with a crewmember.
Eleven foreign players were reportedly onboard the jet. A Czech embassy official said Czech players Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek and Jan Marek were among those killed, and Latvian officials confirmed the death of Latvian defenseman Karlis Skrastins.
The plane that crashed was relatively new, built in 1993, and belonged to a small Moscow-based Yak Service company.
Swarms of police and rescue crews rushed to Tunoshna, a picturesque village with a blue-domed church on the banks of the Volga River. One of the plane's engines could be seen poking out of the river and a flotilla of boats combed the water for bodies. Russian rescue workers struggled to heft the bodies of large, strong athletes in stretchers up the muddy, steep riverbank.
One resident, Irina Pryakhova, saw the plane going down, then heard a loud bang and saw a plume of smoke.
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