Heartbreak in Russia as thousands mourn victims
YAROSLAVL, Russia (AP) — They came by the tens of thousands to mourn, from world leaders to ice hockey stars to ordinary Russians, with flowers and tears and aching hearts.
An estimated 100,000 people flocked to a memorial ceremony Saturday in the western city of Yaroslavl for the victims of the Russian plane crash that devastated a top ice hockey team.
“For the first time in my life, I had trouble entering an ice arena,” Vyacheslav Fetisov, a former NHL star who is chairman of the Kontinental Hockey League, said at the ceremony. “It’s an inexplicable tragedy.”
Mourners including Prime Minister Vladimir Putin poured into the team’s arena to lay flowers near coffins containing remains of players and staff of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team. Many were draped in the team’s red, white and blue colors.
Wednesday’s crash of a chartered Yak-42 jet killed 43 people and was one of the sports world’s worst aviation disasters. Of the 45 people on board, 36 were Lokomotiv players, coaches and team officials, including many European and former NHL players.