Hockey fans mourn team at Lokomotiv arena

8th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Thousands of Russian ice hockey fans turned the Lokomotiv arena into a shrine Thursday, stacking up roses and team scarves in mourning the deaths of team members in a plane crash.

Russia postponed the start of the season following Wednesday's disaster which killed at least 44 people, including members of the three-time Russian champion team travelling to their first match of the season.

The tragedy happened when a Russian jet crashed on takeoff at an airport outside the central city of Yaroslavl, where thousands of fans visited the stadium Thursday to pay their respects.

"In Yaroslavl, a man has two things. A man has his children, and he has Lokomotiv," said a man outside the arena, a team scarf wrapped around his neck.

In the Belarus capital Minsk, dozens of people left candles at the entrance to the Dinamo arena where the season's first match with Lokomotiv was to have been played Wednesday.>

Many stood around stunned and quietly shed tears, while others said prayers while clutching a candle.

"It is very difficult. We wanted to be at the match, but everything turned out differently," one elderly man tearfully told Belarus state television.

Russian hockey officials, meanwhile, announced plans to put together a new Lokomotiv team within days by assigning players from other top sides in the league.

"Everyone knows that this is the most important sport" in Yaroslavl, said Russian hockey boss Vyacheslav Fetisov.

"Lokomotiv simply must play again to commemorate the dead."

© 2011 AFP

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