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On September 7, a plane crashed carrying the entire squad of the ice hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl on the opening day of the KHL season in Russia. It was one of the worst tragedies to happen to Russian sports in history. Out of the 45 people on the plane, only two survived the initial crash that came to a rest on the bank of the Volga River.
Local citizens were the first to arrive at the scene of the crash. They were able to only pull the two survivors out to safety from the flames and debris before the plane was completely burned.
The survivors from the crash included the air mechanic of the plane and hockey player, Aleksandr Galimov. Both men were treated for severe burns and fractures. Galimov, right wing for the Lokomotiv and the Russian National team, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition due to major damage to his respiratory system.
According to an article published Monday on by SOTT.NET, despite the best efforts of doctors in its burn unit at Vishnevsky Hospital, 26-year-old, Galimov, died of the severe burns that covered nearly 90 per cent of his body. After news of the crash got out, fans gathered in rallies, putting their remaining hope in the survival of the last Russian hockey player.
The fans chanted together saying, “Galimov, live for the whole team!” and other slogans dedicated to Galimov. “All of Yaroslavl, all of the country, all of the world followed the doctors’ words, believing, hoping, praying that he would defeat death and remain with us,” Yaroslavl Gov. Sergei Vakhrukov said, according to SOTT.NET.
The plane was taking off from the local airport when the pilot attempted to take-off at a low speed, making the plane being more difficult to control. This caused the pilot to then hit a beacon near the runway which led to the crash on the bank of the Volga. Witnesses suggest that a technical malfunction caused the plane to be unable to reach the necessary speed to take-off safely, leading to the crash.
Out of the entire 37-man squad, many of the players had played in the NHL and for their national teams. Some of these players include Slovakian superstar Pavol Demitra, Stanley Cup winning Josef Vasicek, and goalkeeper Stefan Liv.
The first game of the KHL season between Salavat Yulaev and Atlant was stopped in the middle of the second period to inform the crowd that the crash had killed the entire Lokomotiv team. The sellout crowd held a moment of silence for the departed team, and both teams headed to the nearest church afterwards to pay respects to their late friends.
After announcing the news to the sold out crowd, KHL President Aleksandr Medvedev assured everyone that the league “will do our best to keep the high-level hockey in Yaroslavl”. On Thursday, thousands of people gathered in the Slovac ice hockey arena to remember Pavol Demitra — the former national team captain, according to the associated press.
Ceremonies are being held for each hockey player, as family, friends, and fans continue to mourn this great loss.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/tesla314/