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MOSCOW, September 7 (Itar-Tass) — A number top-rank officials from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine have sent expressions of condolences in connection with the air crash near the Volgan city of Yarloslavl that carried away the lives of the Lokomotiv ice hockey team in full force.
The accident occurred at around 16:00 hours Moscow Standard Time /12:00 hours GMT/ after a Yakovlev-42 jet of the Yak-Servis charter airline had taken off from the Yaroslavl airport to hold a course for the Belarussian capital Minsk.
Russia’s Federal Service for Civil Aviation /Rosaviatsiya/ says the jet failed to ascend to a secure altitude after getting airborne and staked the antenna of a beacon located some 2 kilometers away from the airport’s runways.
Of the forty-five people aboard, only two survived. Officials at the Ministry for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense /EMERCOM/ said the bodies of 29 people had been found by the time of reporting.
EMERCOM also said that eleven of the forty-five persons aboard were citizens of other countries. Various sources provided the names of at least five foreign players of Lokomotiv – the Belarussians Ruslan Salei and Sergei Ostapchuk, the Czechs Karel Rachunek, Jan Marek and Jan Vasicek, and the Slovak Pavol Demitra.
In Minsk, Lokomotiv was to play a match versus the Dinamo Minsk ice hockey club. This was to be the Belarussian team’s first game this season as part of the Kontinental Hockey League /KHL/ championship.
President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus expressed condolences to Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, as well as to the families and friends of the people who died near Yaroslavl.
“This tragedy means an irreparable loss for the entire global sports community,” the presidential press service said quoting Lukashenko’s telegram. “We’ll always keep the memories of the dead in our hearts and their contribution to ice hockey will become an integral part of the history of world sports.”
“On behalf of the people of Ukraine and myself personally, I’d like to ask to convey my heart-felt condolences to the families and friends of those who died,” President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine said in his telegram to Dmitry Medvedev.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin sent telegrams to the Yarosvlavl region Governor, Sergei Vakhrukov, and the President of Russia’s Ice Hockey Federation, Vladislav Tretyak.
The telegrams say, in part: “I learned about the air accident that entailed a tragic death of players, coaches and other members of the Lokomotiv club ice hockey team, and I share the pain and grief of this irreparable loss with all my heart.”
“Please convey my condolences to the to the families and friends of the dead,” Sobyanin said. “We’re standing side by side with you at this dramatic hour.”