Many fans flocked to the stadium soon after the crash and left team scarves as well as flowers beside the stadium wall. Some were in tears. Others chanted the names of the players before going home late on Wednesday evening. “Tears on the ice,” Russia’s popular Tvoi Den newspaper said on its front page under a picture of the squad on the ice. “Yet another terrible air crash has shaken Russia,” it said.
Condolences also poured in from abroad after the crash, which raised concerns about the safety of Russia’s ageing fleet of passenger planes. International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel sent his condolences from the global ice hockey community and Russia’s Kommersant-FM radio station said players from other hockey teams were offering to help rebuild the team. The recorders could provide key information explaining why the Yak-42 crashed just after takeoff Wednesday from the Yaroslavl airport, 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow. The Interstate Aviation Committee says the recorders are believed to be in the tail section of the jet, which is partly submerged in the river.
The victims included 36 players, coaches and officials of Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, which had been heading to Minsk, Belarus to play its opening game of the Kontinental Hockey League season.
On Thursday morning, hundreds of local residents gathered at the city’s Russian Orthodox cathedral to mourn the victims. Many of them wore team scarves, some of the women using them to cover their heads as church ritual requires. In recent years, Russia and some other former Soviet republics have had some of the world’s worst air traffic safety records. Experts blame the age of the aircraft, weak government controls, poor pilot training and a cost-cutting mentality.