Jet Carrying Russian Hockey Team Crashes

Sep 7, 2011

A Russian jet carrying a top ice hockey team crashed while taking off Wednesday in western Russia, killing at least 36 people and leaving one critically injured, officials said.

The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the Yak-42 plane crashed as it was trying to take off from Yaroslavl airport, about 185 miles east of Moscow. It said one person survived the crash with grave injuries.

The weather was sunny and clear at the time.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin immediately sent the nation's transport minister to the site, 10 miles east of Yaroslavl.

The jet was carrying members of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team to the Belarus capital of Minsk for their first match of the season in the Kontinental Hockey League.

The KHL is an international club league that pits together teams from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Slovakia.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is a leading force in Russian hockey and came third in the KHL last year. It's coached by Canadian Brad McCrimmon and includes several international stars in its ranks, such as Stefan Liv of Sweden and Czech Republic players Josef Vaicek and Jan Marek.

It wasn't immediately clear which players were on board the Yak-42 on Wednesday.

This crash is the latest in a series of plane disasters in Russia. Analysts blame lax safety rules since the collapse of the Soviet Union. President Dmitry Medvedev has announced plans to take aging Soviet-built planes out of service starting next year.

The short- and medium-range Yak-42 has been in service since 1980 and dozens are still in service with Russian and other airlines.

In June, another Russian passenger jet crashed in the northwestern city of Petrozavodsk, killing 47 people. The crash of that Tu-134 plane has been blamed on pilot error.

Jessica Golloher reported from Moscow for this story, which contains material from The Associated Press.

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