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Player death brings Russian plane toll to 44: hospital

The last remaining player of Russia’s top hockey team died Monday after a four-day battle with severe burns, bringing the toll from last week’s plane crash to 44 people, a Moscow hospital said.

Lokomotiv winger Alexander Galimov was one of two people who was not instantly killed when a Yak-42 plane carrying the hockey team went down near the club’s home town of Yaroslavl.

Galimov was hospitalised with severe burns over 90 percent of his body.

“Despite therapy that included all modern treatment methods, Alexander Galimov died in the morning from burns,” Moscow’s Vishnevsky surgical institute said in a statement on its website.

The 18-year-old jet failed to gain altitude just after takeoff for reasons that are still unclear to Russian aviation authorities.

“Lord, we all hoped so much for a miracle. The last string has been torn,” said one of the messages on Lokomotiv’s website, which has been turned into an outpouring of grief from fans filling its guestbook.

An estimated 100,000 people paid their last respects to the team at a memorial service at its home arena on Saturday that was also attended by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The crash prompted Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev to order his government Sunday to shut down unreliable airlines and raise penalties for air safety violations.