Yaroslavl plane crash shocks hockey-crazed Czechs

8. 9. 2011 14:41
People gathered in Prague and other cities to pay respects to Yaroslavl plane crash victims
Foto: Reuters

Moscow - Plain crash in Yaroslavl, Russia, killed 43 people - players and coaches of the local ice hockey club Lokomotiv, and crew members. The disaster shocked hockey fans all over the world, with almost immediate expressions of solidarity to victims and their families.

The Lokomotiv team was on its way to Minsk to play its first match of the 2011/12 season of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel was quoted by the KHL web page, describing the disaster as "the darkest day in the history of our sport".

The disaster produced biggest shock in the countries whose players lost lives in the crash. The crash killed players and coaches from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Belarus, Latvia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

With the disaster, the Czech Republic lost three of its 2010 ice hockey world championship winners - Karel Rachůnek, Jan Marek, and Josef Vašíček. Slovakian hockey player Pavol Demitra lost his life as well.

Read more: 45 year-old Hašek dominates Czech ice hockey league

Read more: Jaromir Jagr awarded Medal of Merit by Czech president

Czech society shocked

Together with football, ice hockey is the Czech Republic's most popular spectator sport, and yesterday's disaster shocked the society.

Czech President Václav Klaus wrote in an official press release that he is "deeply shocked by today's tragic news about the plane crash in Yaroslavl, which killed tens of hockey players from all over the world, including three Czech national team players." Klaus expressed his condolences to their families and relatives.

Wednesday evening, tens of Czech and Slovakian hockey fans started to gather in Prague's Old Town Square to light candles and pay tributes to the plain crash victims. Old Town Square is traditionally the place where the Czech national team have celebrated their triumphs with fans.

In Zlín, Southern Moravia, fans gathered at the entrance to the local ice hockey arena. Karel Rachůnek was born in Zlín and played for the local club.

Aktualne.cz offered its readers a possibility to express their solidarity with the Yaroslavl plane crash victims by lighting a virtual candle on their Facebook profile. So far, thousands have done so.

You can join them below.

The New York Times pointed out that the crash raises further concerns about the safety of the air travel in Russia, with eight fatal plane crashes this year.

In April 2010, tens of top political and military representatives of Poland died in a plane crash near Smolensk, Russia.

The US daily also remembered the 1950 air plane crash in Sverdlovsk, today's Yekaterinburg, Russia. The crash killed several players of the Soviet air force hockey club team, whose manager was Vasiliy Stalin, the son of the USSR's dictator Joseph Vissarionovich.

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