An aircraft carrying members of a major league ice hockey team crashed in Russia on Wednesday, killing at least 43 people, according to Russian news agency Ria Nivosti.
The crash occurred at 4 p.m. Moscow time (noon GMT). According to a report, the team was headed to Minsk for the Lokomotiv's opening game. The aircraft, a Yak-42, never reached flying altitude and only traveled about 500 meters until it crashed and burst into flames.
There are currently two reported survivors. A Ria Novosti story is claiming that poor quality avian fuel may be to blame for the crash.
The crash appears to have dismembered some of its vicitms, as body parts are reportedly being found in the Volga River, near the scene of the crash.
The cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder have yet to be discovered.
This is not the first time a sports organization has been wiped out by a deadly plane crash.
In 1960, the California Polytechnic State University football team's plane crashed on takeoff from the 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 22.
The school newspaper was burdened with the task of reporting the tragedy, which had a significant impact on the way that air traffic operated. It was because of the Cal Poly Mustang plane crash that air traffic controllers - not pilots - make the final decision on whether a flight takes off.
In October 1970, 31 people were killed when a plane carrying the Wichita State University football team crashed into the Rocky Mountains due to a pilot error. The pilot wanted to give his passengers a scenic view of the Rockies but misjudged his altitude.
A month later, on Nov. 14, 1970, all passengers aboard Southern Airlines Flight 932 were killed when the aircraft crashed and burned after hitting a tree on its descent in Virginia. The aircraft was carrying 37 members of the Marshall University Thundering football team, eight coaching staff, and 25 boosters in addition to the flight crew.
Like the Cal Poly Mustangs, the Thundering Herd team was traveling home from a game. The tragedy, which was the subject of the 2006 film We Are Marshall, is considering the worst sports disaster in history. In a cruel twist, the team came very close to calling off the flight and taking ground transportation because of the Wichita State tragedy.
On Friday the 13th in 1972, a plane carrying the Uruguyan rugby team crashed in the Andes mountains, killing a total of 29 people between the initial impact of the crash and an avalanche that fell upon the crash site.
Because of the remote location of the crash, all the passengers were presumed dead after an intitial search party abandoned the rescue mission. Survivors were forced to eat the bodies of passengers who had previously died, and they were not rescued until 72 days after the crash, when two survivors journeyed across the Andes to find help.
The Andes flight disaster was the subject of the 1993 film Alive.
This is the darkest day in the history of our sport,'' Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federationm, told Sports Illustrated of the Russian hockey team plane crash. This is not only a Russian tragedy - the Lokomotiv roster included players and coaches from 10 nations.''