Passenger plane crashes in Russia killing dozens | Current Affairs | DW | 07.09.2011
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Current Affairs

Passenger plane crashes in Russia killing dozens

A passenger airplane carrying a major Russian ice hockey team has crashed shortly after takeoff killing nearly everyone on board, according to local news agencies. The crash took place in Yaroslavl, in western Russia.

Yak-42 Russian jet

The Yak-42 jet crashed just after takeoff from Yaroslavl

A Russian plane crashed shortly after takeoff on Wednesday, killing nearly everyone on board, according to officials and Russian news agencies.

The Yak-42 aircraft was headed from the city of Yaroslavl, 240 kilometers (149 miles) north of Moscow, to Minsk in Belarus when it crashed. At least 43 people were killed, according to an official from state aviation agency Rosaviatsia. Officials said Russian ice hockey player Alexander Galimov survived the crash along with a crew member.

The plane was carrying members of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team, who were due to play a match against Dinamo Minsk on Thursday in the opening game of the season of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

Lokomotiv players celebrating a score during a final match of the KHL Western Conference between Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and Atlant Moscow in March 2011

Many of the passengers were members of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team

Lokomotiv are a leading force in Russian ice hockey and came third in the KHL last year. Although all the victims have not been named, one player on the plane was German national ice hockey player Robert Dietrich. The 25-year-old transferred to the Russian side in June.

Lokomotiv's roster also includes Czech national players Karel Ranuchek, Jan Marek and Josef Vasicek, Slovakia's Pavol Demitra and Swedish goalkeeper Stefan Liv. The head coach, Canadian Brad McCrimmon, was also on the plane, according to the KHL.

"This is a terrible tragedy for the global ice hockey community with so many nationalities involved," International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel said in a statement on the federation website.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends of the victims."

Political response

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin immediately ordered Transport Minister Igor Levitin to travel to the site.

The crash occurred while Russia was hosting an international political forum in Yaroslavl, which President Dimitry Medvedev was expected to address on Thursday. Medvedev's spokeswoman said the president expressed his condolences and would alter his plans for the forum and visit the site of the crash.

The short and medium-range Yak-42 has been in service since 1980 and dozens are still in use by Russian and other airlines. Medvedev has announced plans to take aging Soviet-built planes out of service staring next year. The model that crashed was built in 1993 and belonged to a small Moscow-based Yak Service company.

In June, another Russian passenger jet crashed in the northwestern city of Petrozavodsk, killing 47 people.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (AP, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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