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) -- A Russian jet carrying a top professional ice hockey team crashed on Wednesday into a river bank as 43 died and two others were critically injured.

A Yak-42 airplane crashed shortly after takeoff about 150 miles northeast of Moscow with 45 people on board, which included 37 passengers and eight crew, according to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry. Among the passengers was the Lokomotiv ice hockey team from the new Kontinental Hockey League.

A jet engine bobs in a riverbank some 150 miles northeast of Moscow.


The plane was wobbling in flight, it was clear that something was wrong," witness Irina Pryakhova said, according to

The Associated Press

. "I saw them pulling bodies to the shore, some still in their seats with seatbelts on."

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Police and rescue crews arrived on the scene and could see one of the plane's engines bobbing in the river,


reported. Workers struggled to pull bodies of the large athletes from the wreckage in the muddy riverbank.

Among Lokomotiv's members was former Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon. Former NHL player Pavol Demitra featured as one of the team's players; he previously played for the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks.

Lokomotiv has been a three-time Russian League champion.

"We will do our best to ensure that hockey in Yaroslavl does not die, and that it continues to live for the people that were on that plane," said the Russian Ice Hockey Federation president.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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