Passenger plane carrying ice hockey team crashes in western Russia, killing 43

September 7th, 2011 - 8:16 pm ICT by BNO News  

MOSCOW (BNO NEWS) — Forty-three people, including several foreigners, were killed on Wednesday when a passenger plane carrying an ice hockey team crashed in western Russia, officials said. Two people survived the accident.

The Yak-Service Airlines plane, with 37 passengers and 8 crew members on board, crashed as it was attempting to take off from Tunoshna Airport in Yaroslavl Oblast, which is about 250 kilometers (160 miles) northeast of Moscow. Parts of the wreckage landed in the nearby Volga River.

Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said two people survived the accident, and both remain in a critical condition. Their identities were not immediately released. A total of 26 bodies had been recovered as of Wednesday evening.

The Yak-42 aircraft was carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavi ice hockey team to the Belarusian capital of Minsk to play a game. Among those on board were at least eleven foreigners, but their nationalities were not immediately known.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed his condolences to the families and friends of those killed in the plane crash, the president’s office said in a statement. Medvedev, who is to visit the site of the crash, also ordered an investigation into the accident.

The cause of the accident has not yet been established, but initial reports indicate the plane failed to gain altitude and hit a beacon before crashing.

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek also offered his condolences to the families and friends of the victims. “I am deeply saddened by the news of this tragic plane crash. It is a human disaster and also a great loss for the world of sport and ice-hockey,” he said.

Russia has seen a number of major aviation accidents over the last few years, in part because of its use of old aircraft. In early August, eleven people were killed when an Antonov-12 transport plane crashed in the country’s Far East.

In July, seven people were killed when an Antonov An-24 crashed into the Ob River, about 63 kilometers (39 miles) from Nizhnevartovsk, a city in Russia’s Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug.

And a total of 47 people were killed on June 20 when a RusLine Tupolev Tu-134 plane crashed during landing near Petrozavodsk, the capital city of the Republic of Karelia, which is one of Russia’s federal subjects. Only five people survived the accident.

Most notably, Polish President Lech Kaczynski was among 96 people killed on April 10, 2010, when his Tupolev Tu-154M aircraft crashed near the city of Smolensk in Russia. He was visiting Smolensk for the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Polish prisoners of war in the village of Katyn.

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