Russians pay last respects to ice hockey players

The first funerals of Russia’s Lokomotiv ice hockey players killed in the plane crash near the Russian city of Yaroslavl begin Saturday. Families and fans of the Lokomotiv team are honoring the victims at a ceremony on the ice of their home stadium.

­The ceremony started at 8:30am local time (04:30 GMT) and will last till 12:30pm (08:30 GMT). A Russian Orthodox funeral service for victims is being held in a cathedral in Yaroslavl. Press are not allowed to attend the service. 

Saturday is the third official day of mourning.

The city is expecting thousands to visit in memory of the victims. Hockey players and officials as well as fans are coming to pay their respects.

A special train for those who want to pay their last respects to the athletes was deployed from Moscow to Yaroslavl.

The accident has claimed the lives of several international players who played in the Kontinental Hockey League, Europe’s biggest club competition.

All of them are to be buried in their hometowns, with all the Ukrainian players hailing from Kiev.

The bodies of the three Czech players, Jan Marek, Josef Vasicek and Karel Rachunek, were flown home on Friday afternoon.

In memory of the victims of the tragedy, two memorials are planned to be erected at the crash site near the village of Tunoshna, where the plane crash took place, and outside the Arena ice palace, Lokomotiv’s home base.

At least 43 people died in a Yakovlev Yak-42 passenger plane crash near the city of Yaroslavl in Central Russia on September 7. The majority of victims – 37 people – were members of the local ice hockey team. The remaining victims were from the flight crew.

Specialists continue working to extract information from the flight recorders of the ill-fated aircraft. The first answers as to what reasons could have led to the tragedy are coming from the investigative committee. According to the preliminary results, the engines on the plane were fine. There may, however, have been some problems with the fuel.

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