A passenger plane carrying Russia’s ice hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to a season-opening match crashed shortly after takeoff on Wednesday. The crash killed 43 people aboard, leaving two survivors critically injured.
The team was on its way to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where it was to play Dinamo Minsk in its inaugural game of the Kontinental Hockey League's 2011 season.
It was the second major air crash involving the Yak-42 aircraft in three months. The cause of the accident isn't yet known.
The plane crashed immediately after takeoff from Tunoshna airport near Yaroslavl into the banks of the Volga River at 4 p.m. Moscow time (noon GMT), the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said. Yaroslavl is situated 150 miles northeast of Moscow.
The plane never reached flying altitude and only traveled about 500 meters when it crashed and burst into flames. There were 45 people on board, 37 passengers and eight crew members, and only two — a player and a crew member — survived, in grave condition.
I heard a big bang and then a louder one 10 seconds later, said Andrei Gorshkov, a 16-year-old Tunoshna resident. Flames shot high and a column of black smoke rose into the air.
Gorshkov said that he had seen the plane about 300 meters over the village, its nose pointing at a downward angle, and then lost sight of it as it fell.
When Gorshkov ran to the site, he said, The wheel assembly was burning, half the plane was in the water, seats were floating and two people lay dead.
Yaroslavl's regional governor, Sergei Vakhrukov, said the two survivors were forward player Alexander Galimov and flight crew member Alexander Sizov. Galimov and Sizov are in a critical condition and are being treated in intensive care, a doctor at the hospital said.
“The plane had trouble gaining altitude and hit an antenna beyond the runway. The plane caught fire after the crash,” the Interfax news agency cited an official at the state aviation agency Rosaviatsia as saying.
The crash was Russia's deadliest since June, when a Tupolev Tu-134 jet slammed into a roadside while trying to land in fog in the northern Russian city of Petrozavodsk, killing 45 people.
In April 2010, Polish President Lech Kaczynski's Russian-built plane crashed near the western city of Smolensk in a thick fog, killing him and all 95 passengers on board.
In 1960, the California Polytechnic State University football team's plane crashed on takeoff from Toledo, Ohio, airport amidst dense fog, after playing a game against Bowling Green University. The crash claimed the lives of 22 passengers and injured another.
Here's the list of the passengers and crew aboard the ill-fated Russian aircraft:
Anikeenko Vitaly, Bakhvalov Yuri, Alexander Belyaev, Mikhail Balandin, Vasyukov Alexander, Vaší?ek Joseph, Vyuhin Alexander E., Robert Dietrich Genrikhovich, Pavol Demitra, Zimin Andrey, Kalimulin Marat Natfullovich, Karpovtsev Alexander G., Kalyanin Alexander I., Kiryukhin Andrey, Klyukin Nikita, Korolev, Igor B., Krivonosov Nikolai, Kunnov Evgeny, Vyacheslav Kuznetsov, Stefan Liv, Daniel Patrick, Jan Marek, Brad McCrimmon Byron, Ostapchuk Sergey I., Piskunov, Vladimir Leonidovich, Karel Rachunek, Evgeny Sidorov, Karlis Skrastins Martinovic, Snurnitsyn Pavel, Daniel E. Sobchenko, Tkachenko Ivan Leonidovich, Paul S., Yuri O. Urych, Gennady Churilov S., Maxim A. Shuvalov and Yarchuk Artem Nikolaevich.
Solomentsev Andrey (Commander), Zhivelov Igor Konstantinovich (second pilot), Zhuravlev, Sergey (bortmehanih), Sarmatova Elena (flight attendant), Maksumova Hope Murzafarovna (flight attendant), Chavigny Elena (flight attendant) and Matyushin Vladimir Yurevich (flight engineer).
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