Members of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team were aboard flight to Belarus for first season match [Reuters]

A Russian passenger jet carrying hockey players to their first match of the season crashed near the city of Yaroslavl, killing at least 43 people.

Initial reports said 37 people were on board the plane. But officials at Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry have corrected the figure since, saying 45 passengers were on board the plane, only two of whom survived.

The Yak-42 passenger jet took off from Yaroslavl airport about 300km northeast of Moscow, before crashing.

Officials said the jet was taking members of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team to the Belarus capital Minsk for the their first match of the 2011-2012 season.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin immediately sent the nation's transport minister to the site of the crash, 15km east of Yaroslavl.

President Dmitry Medvedev has announced plans to take aging Soviet built planes out of service starting in 2012.

The short- and medium-range Yak-42 has been in service since 1980 and dozens are still in service with Russian and other airlines.

In June, another Russian passenger jet crashed in the northwestern city of Petrozavodsk, killing 47 people. The crash of that Tu-134 plane has been blamed on pilot error.

Source: Agencies