MOSCOW—A plane carrying a Russian hockey team that included former NHL hockey players crashed as it took off from Russia's Yaroslavl airport Wednesday afternoon.
A total of 43 people are reported dead.
Among those reported dead is Pavol Dimitra, the first Grand Rapids Griffins player to make it to the NHL. He played in the team's first season and most recently played for the Vancouver Canucks. Also Stefan Liv, a former Griffin player, was on the ill-fated team's roster.
Also on the plane was Brad McCrimnon, the team's head coach, who played as a Detroit Red Wing and was a coach with the team last year.
Several of the dead possibly include former Grand Rapids Griffins and other Detroit Red Wings players. Ruslan Salei, formerly of the Red Wings, is reported among the dead.
The Yak-42 aircraft was taking members of a professional hockey team to Minsk, the Belarusian capital.
The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team -- which included players from Germany, Slovakia and Sweden -- was scheduled to play a match in the new Kontinental Hockey League.
The team, most of which is believed to have been on the plane, included defensemen Karel Rachunek, who played with the New Jersey Devils, Salei, and Karlis Skrastins, who played with the Dallas Stars. Josef Vasicek, who played with the New York Islanders, was on the roster.
The Russian Federal Aviation Agency said a number of people had survived the crash, but their condition was critical.
An aviation agency spokesman, Sergei Izvolsky, told CNN the crash occurred around 4 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) during take-off because the plane couldn't reach a safe altitude fast enough.
The aircraft collided with the antenna of the airport beacon, fell to the ground and broke into several pieces and caught fire, Izvolsky said.
It was a charter flight with a plane operated by Yak-Service Airlines, he said. Yaroslavl is about 155 miles (250 km) northeast of the capital, Moscow.
(From CNN reports. Reuters image.)