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MOSCOW, September 21 (Itar-Tass) — No external factors could have provoked an air disaster of the Yak-42 plane near Yaroslavl in which the Lokomotiv ice hockey team was killed, Transport Minister Igor Levitin declared on Wednesday.
"It was a scheduled flight, which took off exactly on time, and the runway was empty," Levitin said on Radio Vesti FM. "I have been to the site of the plane crash, and I say there were no external factors which might have worsened pilots' efforts," Levitin said.
The Yak-42 which had the Lokomotiv ice hockey team on board, crashed near Yaroslavl on September 7. Forty- four people on board were killed. The only survivor is a flight attendant who is undergoing treatment at a Moscow hospital.
Experts of the Interstate Aviation Committee established that the plane failed to gain the necessary speed before it took off and overshot the runway, running 400 meters on the ground, and then collided with a radio aerial. The plane heavily tilted to the left and fell from the altitude of five-six meters.
Earlier Deputy Transport Minister Valery Okulov said he did not rule out that the plane crash might be a result of upset balance of the plane because a bigger share of passengers and cargoes was centered in the front section of the plane.
An investigation into the causes of the Yak-42 continues. Experts continue to study the plane's flight recorders. After the tragedy the Federal Service for Supervision of Transport ordered checks of all "Yak" planes used by Russian airline companies. Three Yak-42 passenger planes have been suspended from passenger transportation.