NEW YORK, September 7 (Itar-Tass) -- Commissioner of the National Hockey League, Garry Bettman, has released a statement on Wednesday’s tragedy involving the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey club, all the members of which died in an air accident near the city of Yaroslavl, 260 km northeast off Moscow.
“Though it occurred thousands of miles away from our home arenas, this tragedy represents a catastrophic loss to the hockey world — including the NHL family, which lost so many fathers, sons, teammates and friends who at one time excelled in our League,” the statement said.
“Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished,” Bettman said.
The accident that carried away the lives of the Lokomotiv ice hockey team in full force 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 fell into three parts, two of which collapsed into a river.
Of the forty-five people aboard, only two survived. Officials at the Ministry for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense /EMERCOM/ said earlier the bodies of 31 people had been found.
EMERCOM also said that eleven of the forty-five persons aboard were citizens of other countries.
Many of the team members have been closely related to North-American ice hockey clubs at different periods of their carriers.