A Russian jet carrying a top hockey team crashed just after takeoff Wednesday, killing at least 43 people and leaving two others critically injured. It was one of the worst crashes ever involving a sports team. The plane was carrying the Lokomotiv ice hockey team (SEE TEAM PHOTO BELOW), leaving to play its opening game of the season.
Lokomotiv plays in the Kontinental Hockey League. Here are statements released from the KHL and and the IIHF, the International Ice Hockey Federation:
From the KHL:
We are only beginning to understand the impact of this tragedy affecting the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl club and the international hockey community. First and foremost, our condolences go out to the families and friends of the players, coaches and staff lost in today's tragedy.
We know that there are many in the KHL family who will be grieving with us. As the investigation of this tragedy progresses we will work closely with investigators, government officials, club executives and the Yaroslavl community. We are working to find an appropriate way to honor this club and begin the healing process from the deep loss so many of us feel today.
We are aware that many of you have questions. This tragedy remains our primary focus. We ask for patience as we find an appropriate way to proceed with the 2011/2012 season. We will continue to communicate our plans as they take shape.
From IIHF President René Fasel:
This is a terrible tragedy for the global ice hockey community with some many nationalities involved. Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends of the victims.
Despite the substantial air travel of professional hockey teams, our sport has been spared from tragic traffic accidents. But only until now. This is the darkest day in the history of our sport. This is not only a Russian tragedy, the Lokomotiv roster included players and coaches from ten nations.