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Russian Plane Crash Kills 43, Including World Hockey Stars


Girls light candles in memory of victims of a Russian plane crash, in downtown Yaroslavl, September 7, 2011.

Girls light candles in memory of victims of a Russian plane crash, in downtown Yaroslavl, September 7, 2011.

A private Russian jet carrying a local ice hockey team crashed shortly after takeoff Wednesday in western Russia, killing at least 43 people.

The accident killed members of the local Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team, many of them international hockey stars. Several coaches and club officials also were killed. One player and a member of the crew were critically injured.

Officials say the Yak-42 passenger plane with 45 people on board crashed immediately after takeoff from the city of Yaroslavl, about 240 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

The ice hockey team was heading to the Belarusian capital, Minsk, for its opening game of the season.

News reports say Russian player Alexander Galimov survived the crash. Among those killed were team members from Belarus, Canada, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Sweden.

The world of ice hockey reacted with shock and grief at what is seen as its darkest day.

The plane crash took place as scholars from more than 30 countries gathered in Yaroslavl for an international policy forum, which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was attending Thursday. A spokeswoman for the president said Medvedev will adjust his schedule to visit the scene of the tragedy.

Russia's Emergency Ministry said the dead include Lokomotiv coach and former international hockey star Brad McCrimmon, a Canadian, as well as Pavol Demitra, a former Slovakian national team captain who was a three-time National Hockey League all-star. Czech players Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek and Jan Marek, Swedish goalie Stefan Liv, Latvian defenseman Karlis Skrastins and defenseman Ruslan Salehi of Belarus also were killed.

The cause of the crash has not yet been determined. It is the latest in a series of fatal transportation accidents that has prompted Russian leaders to order a review of the country's infrastructure and safety measures.

Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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