Ukraine’s interior minister and at least 13 others were killed when a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten and a multistory apartment building just east of Kyiv.
The emergency services aircraft went down in the town of Brovary, an eastern suburb of the capital, Ihor Klymenko, the national police chief, said on Facebook Wednesday. The fatalities include all nine on board and at least one child, while 25 others were injured — 11 of them children, authorities said in a revised tally.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who called it an “indescribable pain,” ordered security services and police to “clarify all the circumstances of the accident,” according to a statement distributed by his office.
“They were true patriots of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram.
Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky, who is now the highest-ranking Ukrainian official to die during the 11-month war, was accompanied by other senior officials, including Deputy Minister Yevhen Yenin and a state secretary, Yuri Lubkovych.
Authorities are working to determine the cause of the crash, which occurred shortly after 8 a.m. local time in foggy weather. A preliminary investigation is looking into violations of flight rules, a technical malfunction or “intentional action” taken on the helicopter.
Images showed the fiery wreckage amidst buildings in the suburbs, partly aflame. Firetrucks and police, as well as onlookers, swarmed the area. A preliminary tally from the police stated that at least 18 had died. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.
“The delegation was heading to a hot spot,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the president’s deputy chief of staff, said at a briefing, referring to an unspecified combat zone.
Monastyrsky’s staff had been focusing on investigating alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces as part of the invasion. The minister, Ukraine’s top law-enforcement official, was in charge of the nation’s police force.
“Even though the cause of the accident remains unclear, it is yet another stark reminder of the senseless destruction and immense grief that this war causes,” Admiral Rob Bauer, NATO’s top military official, told a meeting of alliance chiefs in Brussels.
Over the weekend, a nine-story apartment building was demolished in a missile attack in the eastern city of Dnipro, killing at least 45 people, including six children, with authorities still clearing the debris. Ukraine’s air command said the missile strike was from a Russian long-range anti-ship missile.
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