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Man United writes to Russian ice hockey team sharing experience of rebuilding from air crash

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MANCHESTER, England - Manchester United has written to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to sympathize after all but one of the Russian ice hockey team's players died in a plane crash, a tragedy that has revived memories of the English football club's air disaster.

In one of the worst aviation crashes ever in sports, 28 Lokomotiv players travelling to Belarus for their first game of the season were among the 43 people who died when their chartered Yak-42 jet crashed Wednesday shortly after takeoff.

In 1958, eight Man United players were killed in plane crash in Munich.

"It is with great sadness that I write to express the heartfelt condolences of everyone at Manchester United over the tragic loss of life in the plane crash that your club suffered yesterday," United chief executive David Gill wrote Thursday. "The news came as a great shock here and brought back some terrible memories for some of those connected with our club of our own tragedy in Munich in 1958.

"I hope that you can take strength from the knowledge that with time, support and the collective determination of those who are left at the club and colleagues throughout your sport and further afield, Lokomotiv will recover from this and rebuild itself in the memory of those who died."

The United plane crashed in a snowstorm following a refuelling stop after eliminating Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup quarterfinals, killing 23 people in total.

"Not a day goes by at Old Trafford without the recognition of the contribution of the people who were killed in the crash. And it will always be so," Gill wrote. "The thoughts and prayers of all of us are with you in these darkest of days."

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