Russian Yak Crash Devastates Hockey Team (Video)
A Yakovlev-42 crashed on takeoff 150 miles northeast of Moscow Wednesday, killing 43 of 45 aboard, including many members of an international medal-winning Russian Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team. The airliner was flying out of Yaroslavl's Tunoshna Airport for Minsk 4 p.m. local time when it crashed on takeoff, apparently in clear weather. Witnesses report hearing two loud bangs prior to the aircraft's hitting a riverbank on the Volga River and bursting into flames. The jet was carrying 37 passengers and eight crew. Of the two survivors, one was a crew member and the other was ice hockey player Alexander Galimov, who was reportedly burned over 80 percent of his body. Both were reported in critical condition after the crash. Players on the team had connections to ten nations.
Several of the players had been active in the NHL, and included one former U.S. National Hockey League All-Star. Pavol Demitra was the former U.S. All-Star, who perished on the flight. At least two of the players, Alexander Vasyunov and Karel Rachunek, formerly played in the NHL for the New Jersey Devils. Three others on the team had formerly played with the Florida Panthers but all had not yet been confirmed as passengers on the flight. More than 100 rescue workers and 44 rescue vehicles converged on the crash site, where some of the wreckage was hardly recognizable. The Yak-42 has been working the line for more than thirty years.