A Yak-42 passenger jetliner crashed during take off in Russia's Yaroslavl region. The plane was carrying Lokomotiv ice hockey team on board, Interfax news agency reports with reference to the chairman of the press service of the regional Interior Ministry department.
The plane belonged to Yak-Service airline, officials with Rosaviation said.
Thirty-six people were killed in the crash, one was injured. According to Rosaviation, 34 were killed, whereas three people survived. They are staying in critical condition, officials said.
The team was flying from Yaroslavl to Minsk, Belarus, for a match against Dynamo Minsk. The game was supposed to be the first tour match of the championship of the Continental Hockey League.
The crash took place at 4:05 p.m. Moscow time, RIA Novosti reports
The plane reportedly crashed from a low altitude soon after take off, fell into pieces and burst into flames. The Yak-42 crashed on the territory of the airfield. A part of the hull of the plane fell into the Volga River.
UPDATE: There were 45 people on board. The crash left two survivors, EMERCOM officials said.
"It has been said that there were 45 people on board: 37 passengers and eight crew members. 44 were killed and one survived in the crash," an official told RIA Novosti.
Rescuers have already found the bodies of 26 people on the crash site.
"Some of the bodies were found in River Volga because a part of the plane's hull fell into the river. We have information saying that foreign nationals could also be staying on board the Yak-42. The list of the passengers is being specified," officials said.
The plane took off, but failed to gain altitude and hit a beacon antenna. The aircraft crashed, fell apart and burst into flames.
One of the survivors was identified as hockey player Alexander Galimov. The other survivor is reportedly a flight attendant, RIA Novosti said.
Russia's Dmitry Medvedev will change the format of his participation in the International Political Forum in Yaroslavl. The president will visit the site of the plane crash and conduct a special meeting in connection with the tragedy.
A similar tragedy took place over 30 years ago. On August 11, 1979, a Tupolev 134 aircraft slammed into a plane flying from Chelyabinsk to Chisinau. The Tu-134 was flying to Minsk as well. 178 people, including 17 footballers of Pahtakor (Tashkent) were killed in the catastrophe.
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is a Russian professional ice hockey team playing in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The team was founded in 1959. The team generally played in the Second League of the Class "A" group during the Soviet era, being promoted to the First League of Class "A" for the 1983-84 season. Known as Torpedo Yaroslavl at that time, the team enjoyed moderate success under head coach Sergei Alekseyevich Nikolaev. Never a powerful club during the Soviet era, the team became a consistent winner during the 1990s and won their first league championship in 1997 under coach Petr Vorobev. The club moved from Avtodizel Arena to the new Arena 2000 early in the 2001-02 season, and won consecutive league championships in 2002 and 2003 under Czech head coach Vladimír Vujtek, Sr. Vujtek left the club after the 2002-03 season for a lucrative contract offer from rival Ak Bars Kazan. Lokomotiv have not been able to replicate their success since that time, but remain a perennial contender in the Russian Superleague (RSL).
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