Medvedev demands improved air safety

2011-09-08 21:35

Yaroslavl -  President Dmitry Medvedev called for immediate changes in Russia's troubled aviation industry Thursday - including sharply reducing the number of airlines - as the country mourned a crash that killed 43 people and devastated a top ice hockey team.

The crash Wednesday killed 36 players, coaches and staff of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team, including European and former NHL players, drawing new attention to the poor air safety records of Russia and other former Soviet republics.

Experts blame the problems on an ageing fleet, weak government controls, poor pilot training and a cost-cutting mentality.

Investigators could not immediately pinpoint what caused the Yak-42 jet to crash into the banks of the Volga River shortly after takeoff from Yaroslavl, 240km northeast of Moscow.

Workers laboured on Thursday to raise the plane's shattered tail section, site of one of the plane's on-board recorders.

The two crash survivors - player Alexander Galimov and crew member Alexander Sizov - were both reported to be in grave condition Thursday after being flown to Moscow for treatment.

The plane crashed on the opening day of an international forum that was to showcase Yaroslavl as a modern and vibrant Russian city.

Medvedev laid flowers at the crash site on Thursday and met with officials, and then opened his speech at the forum by calling for a moment of silence the victims.

"The number of air companies should be radically reduced and it's necessary to do this within the shortest time," Medvedev told the conference. Experts say smaller carriers sometimes lack funds to properly maintain their fleet and tend to cut corners on safety.

The crashed jet was built in 1993 and one of its three engines was replaced a month ago, Deputy Transport Minister Valery Okulov said.

It is unclear whether technical failures played a role in the crash, but the plane apparently struggled to gain altitude and then hit a signal tower before breaking apart along the Volga.

Okulov said federal transportation authorities are considering whether to halt flights by the 57 Yak-42s still in service in Russia, the state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Some hockey fans blamed the crash on Medvedev's forum itself, which was held in the Lokomotiv arena, making it impossible for the team to play its first game of the season at home.

Thousands of fans gathered outside the arena Wednesday night to mourn the players and shouts of "Down with the summit!" and "The summit is guilty!" were heard.

Forum participants were told on Thursday to take off their badges before heading into town.

Uncertain financial health

It was not immediately clear what measures the government could take to cut the number of airlines, many of which are small, regional operations of uncertain financial health.

Transport Minister Igor Levitin said Russia has about 130 air carriers, but 85% of passengers are carried by just 10 companies.

Medvedev previously has announced plans to take aging Soviet-built planes out of service starting next year. The short- and medium-range Yak-42 has been in service since 1980.

On Thursday morning, hundreds of residents prayed for the victims at the city's Russian Orthodox cathedral, many wearing team scarves as religious headcoverings.

Among the dead were Lokomotiv coach and National Hockey League veteran Brad McCrimmon, a Canadian; assistant coach Alexander Karpovtsev, one of the first Russians to have his name etched on the Stanley Cup as a member of the New York Rangers; and Pavol Demitra, who played for the St Louis Blues and the Vancouver Canucks and was the Slovakian national team captain.

Other standouts killed were Czech players Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek and Jan Marek, Swedish goalie Stefan Liv, Latvian defenceman Karlis Skrastins and defenseman Ruslan Salei of Belarus.

In the Czech Republic, hundreds of mostly young people honoured the victims Thursday at the Old Town Square in the heart of Prague. Wearing Czech national jerseys and carrying Czech flags, they lighted candles around a simple impromptu monument formed by two ice hockey sticks and chanted the names of the three Czech victims. Some signed condolences books for them.

"The winners forever," one entry read.

"It's a tragedy," said Petr Kubalek, 28, from Prague. "That's all I can say. I knew Marek personally. Rachunek was of the top defencemen."

The crash is one of the worst aviation disasters in sports history.

- AP

Read more on:    dmitry medvedev  |  russia  |  air crashes
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.