A helicopter crashed near a school in the Kyiv region on Wednesday morning, killing 18 people including the interior minister and three children, a new tragedy in Ukraine days after a deadly Russian attack in Dnipro.
“Tragedy in Brovary. The number of victims has increased. At 10:30 (8:30 GMT) 18 dead including 3 children,” Regional Governor Oleksiï Kouleba said on Telegram.
He said that “there are also 29 people injured, including 15 children,” raising fears of an even higher death toll.
In images circulating on social networks, we could see the remains of the helicopter mixed with debris, near a car that was crushed under the weight of metal. According to an AFP team, the fire brigade and police were on site.
Among the victims were Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky, 42, his first deputy Yevgeny Yenine and the ministry’s state secretary Yuriy Lubkovich, who were on board the plane along with six others, the head of Ukraine’s national police said in a press release.
“My colleagues, my friends. What a tragic loss. Sincere condolences to their families,” responded on Twitter Anton Gerachtchenko, an adviser to Mr Monastyrsky.
The former lawyer by profession has been in office since July 2021. In 2019 he became a member of the Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, under the label of “servant of the people”, the presidential party.
The crash happened in Brovary, a town of about 100,000 that borders the eastern suburbs of Kyiv. Ukrainians and Russians faced fierce fighting there as troops from Moscow tried to force the capital’s lockdown in the first weeks of their invasion.
At the time of the tragedy, “children and staff” from the kindergarten were on site near the scene of the accident, Mr Kouleba said.
According to footage released to social media, a huge fire broke out after the helicopter crashed, and a residential building was also nearby.
No information about the cause of the tragedy was released immediately.
Earlier, Oleksiï Kouleba had stated that “the circumstances” of this accident were “in progress”.
The crashed plane belonged to the State Service for Emergency Situations of the Interior Ministry, according to a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force.
One of the last major accidents of this type in Ukraine in recent years dates back to September 2020, when 26 people died when an Antonov-26 crashed near Kharkiv (northeast).
This new tragedy comes at the height of the war with Russia, four days after a deadly strike in Dnipro, eastern Ukraine.
In fact, a Russian missile had devastated an apartment building on Saturday, killing at least 45 people, including six children, in one of the deadliest bombings since the Russian invasion began in February 2022.
The youngest victim “was 11 months old,” complained the Deputy Chief of Cabinet of the Ukrainian Presidency, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, on Tuesday evening after more than three days of research.
Under the rubble, the emergency services had pulled out the wounded, but also lifeless bodies trapped under huge concrete blocks.
This new attack on a civilian target has aroused great emotion among the Ukrainian population, as the country has been fighting the Russian invasion for almost 11 months, in often very difficult conditions.
Moved, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed to “bring to justice anyone guilty of this war crime,” blaming the Russian army directly for the slaughter.
Moscow, for its part, has staunchly denied any involvement in this bloody strike, as in previous episodes.