Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has promised a full investigation into a plane crash Wednesday that killed most players from the major league team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
World ice hockey chief Rene Fasel described the disaster as "the darkest day in the history of our sport".
A total of 36 players and officials, along with seven crew, died when the plane went down shortly after take-off from Yaroslavl’s Tunoshna airport — about 250 kilometers north-east of Moscow.
The cause remains unknown. One player, Alexandr Galimov, and one crew member survived with severe injuries.
Medvedev visited the crash scene Thursday, where he laid red roses on the banks of the River Tunoshna. He later said:
This is a shock for the entire country. I've given an order to conduct a thorough investigation.
The situation remains unfortunate, and a string of air crashes which happened this summer shows that. We cannot go on like that.
The BBC reported that thousands of fans gathered in Yaroslavl dressed in team colors with scarves and flags. Many visited the hockey stadium throughout the night to light candles and pay their respects.
And as news of the plane crash spread, NHL players sent messages of sympathy on Twitter, which were posted on the official NHL website.
Meanwhile Kontinental Hockey League president Alexander Medvedev said Thursday that the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team would be "revived" and take part in this year's the championship.
The news service RIA Novosti reported that Lokomotiv Yaroslavl would be be rebuilt by 18 league teams that have offered “two or three players each”.