Rescue services finish work at Yaroslavl plane crash site

Russia’s Emergency Ministry EMERCOM is finalizing its work at the Yak-42 charter flight crash site of near Yaroslavl that claimed 43 lives, most of them players from the major league hockey team Lokomotiv.

­The tail of the crashed plane is to be extracted from the Volga River on Friday to retrieve the black box flight recorders, which will be handed over to the investigation team to establish the cause of the crash.

EMERCOM involved up to 150 specialists, 30 divers and eight boats in efforts to recover the bodies of the passengers and crew, aircraft debris and all possible evidence at the crash site, working all night long after the catastrophe.

Ten psychologists of the Emergency Ministry are continuing to work with the relatives of those killed in the crash and the witnesses to the crash.

Yaroslavl police have made public the names of the law enforcement officers who arrived first at the scene of the crash just one-and-a-half minutes after the Yak-42 burst into flames.

Officers of a special police unit, Dmitry Konoplev and Oleg Smirnov, having worked in law enforcement for 10 years each, were patrolling the Volga River stretch on a boat near the airport. They saw the plane collide with a beacon mast with their own eyes and rushed to the scene.

They saw part of the plane burning on the river bank while the rest of the aircraft was scattered in the water.  They noticed a man chest-deep in the water making for the shore – this was one of only two survivors.

The policemen attempted to come closer to the man, calling him to get away from the debris of the plane, when they saw another survivor in a crew uniform who had made it out of the front section of the crashed Yak-42. The uniformed man, flight engineer Aleksandr Sizov, was dragging the body of another crew member, trying to get away from the burning debris.

At this point emergency vehicles from the airport began to arrive at crash site, so the police officers attended to the man who was in the water. They got him into their boat. According to their report, the man was bright-eyed, moved steadily and spoke clearly, but was badly burnt.

Officers appraised the survivor as a man of courage, capable of sizing up the situation correctly. They constantly talked to him to keep him conscious until the moment they handed him over to medics. Only then did they ask his name.

“I’m Galimov, brothers [Lokomotiv hockey team player Aleksandr Galimov],” he told them.

Another police officer, Nikolay Suntsov, told Peterburg 5 TV channel that once his unit arrived at the crash site by car, they practically had to run over the burning soil looking for survivors, but the only man alive they were able to find was flight engineer Aleksandr Sizov.

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