Kyiv, Ukraine — Ukraine’s interior minister was among at least 13 people killed when a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten outside the capital of Kyiv, officials said Wednesday, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy describing it as a “terrible tragedy.” He said at least three children were among the dead, but the national emergency service later said only one child fatality was confirmed.
Video of the immediate aftermath showed a large fire, as cries could be heard from the scene. There was no immediate information on what caused the crash on a foggy morning, or whether it was believed to have been an accident or related to Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine. There has been no fighting near Kyiv in months.
Ukraine’s State Emergency Service later said at least 14 people were killed in the crash, including one child on the ground. It said more than two dozen people were injured, including 11 children. Earlier, official reports, including from Zelenskyy himself, gave different casualty numbers, including higher death tolls.
Kyiv regional Gov. Oleksii Kuleba told Ukrainian television that emergency services were still identifying remains recovered and that the death toll could rise.
The Ukraine National Police said the crash killed five Interior Ministry officials, one national police official and three crew members on the helicopter. The Associated Press quoted Ihor Klymenko, chief of Ukraine’s National Police, as saying Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, his deputy Yevhen Yenin and State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Yurii Lubkovych were among the dead.
Nine of those killed were aboard the emergency services helicopter, health officials said.
Zelenskyy described the crash as “a terrible tragedy” on a “black morning” that had caused him “unspeakable pain.”
“I have instructed the Security Service of Ukraine, in cooperation with the National Police of Ukraine and other authorized bodies, to find out all the circumstances of what happened,” he said on the Telegram messaging app.
Monastyrsky, a 42-year-old father of two, was appointed interior minister in 2021. He’s the most senior Ukrainian official to lose his life since Russia invaded Ukraine 11 months ago, according to the Reuters news service.
Twenty-two people were hospitalized, including 10 children. Officials said that at the time of the crash that children and employees were in the kindergarten.
Medics and police were working at the scene, in the town of Brovary some 12 miles northeast of Kyiv.
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Russian and Ukrainian forces fought for control of Brovary in the early stages of Moscow’s invasion until Russia’s troops withdrew in early April.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into pro-Western Ukraine on February 24 last year.
The crash came on the heels of a tragedy that saw at least 45 people, including six children, die when a Russian missile struck a residential building in the eastern city of Dnipro over the weekend.
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