Ukraine’s interior minister and three children are among 18 who have been killed after a helicopter crashed near a nursery in Kyiv.
Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, his deputy Yevhen Yenin, and State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Yurii Lubkovych were among those who died, according to Ihor Klymenko, chief of Ukraine’s National Police. Mr Monastyrskyi is the most senior Ukrainian official to have died since the start of the war with Russia almost 11 months ago.
Nine of those killed were on board the emergency services helicopter which crashed in Brovary, an eastern suburb of Kyiv, early on Wednesday (18 January), Mr Klymenko said. He added that 29 people have also been injured in the crash, including 15 children.
There had been no immediate word on whether the crash was an accident or a result of the conflict with Russia.
After the crash a fire broke out close to the nursery, and children and staff were evacuated from the building. Images from the scene of the wreckage show huge flames and a plume of smoke going into the sky, Sky News reported. Ambulance services, police and firefighters are all working at the scene.
Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska was seen dabbing her eyes before attending the World Economic Forum session in Davos, Switzerland. “Another very sad day today – new losses,” she said.
Forum President Borge Brende requested a few moments of silence after opening the session to honour the Ukrainian officials killed in the crash.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said Ukraine has lost a “leading light” in its resistance against Putin. She wrote on Twitter: “This is truly heart breaking. Interior Minister, Denys Monastyrsky was a leading light in supporting the Ukrainian people during Putin’s illegal invasion, and when we spoke in October I was struck by his determination, optimism and patriotism.
“My thoughts go out to all those who have died in this horrible tragedy and their families. The UK will always stand with our Ukrainian friends.”
The crash comes just four days after a Russian missile strike on an apartment building in south-eastern Ukraine. 45 civilians, including six children, were killed – making it the deadliest attack on civilians since the spring.
“Haven’t had time to recover from one tragedy, there is already another one,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office.
More to follow.