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Just two people survived a crash today that claimed almost an entire Russian ice hockey team. The Yak-42 plane, which was carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team to Minsk for the season opener, crashed to the ground and caught fire immediately after take-off at 4pm Moscow time. RIA Novosti reports that at least 44 people died, including eight crew members, while RT.com puts the number at at least 40 and the APat 36.
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, a top team in Russia, has some former NHL players—including ex-Canuck Pavol Demitra—and other international stars as members. It’s coached by former Red Wings assistant Brad McCrimmon. At least one player, Alexander Galimov, is reported to have been one of the survivors; the other was a crew member. The AP, however, reports that there was just one critically injured survivor. According to RT.com, the entire 37-person team was aboard. The weather was good at the time of the crash, and preliminary reports say insufficient lift caused the plane to hit a beacon tower.
Plans for official periods of mourning are being made in Russia.