Moscow: Poor quality of aviation fuel could be one of the reasons behind the Yak-42 plane crash in central Russia in which over 40 people died on Wednesday, a source in the aviation industry said.

The plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team crashed moments after take-off from Yaroslavl airport at 4.00 pm Moscow time, bursting into flames as it hit the ground.

Witnesses spoke of hearing two 'loud bangs' before the accident.

'The aircraft failed to gain the required engine takeoff speed and fell from a low height on a Volga riverbank. Refuelling the plane with low-quality fuel is seen as a priority reason for the engine malfunction,' the source said requesting anonymity.

According to the Russian emergencies ministry, the plane had 45 people on board - 37 passengers and eight crew members.

Two people - hockey player Alexander Galimov and flight attendant Alexander Sizov - survived the crash and are currently in hospital in critical condition.

The cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder of the ill-fated plane are yet to be recovered.