Ukraine: a helicopter crashes near a school in the Kiev region, 18 dead including the Minister of the Interior
Sylvie Claire / January 20, 2023
A helicopter crashed Wednesday morning near a school in the Kiev region, killing 18 people including the interior minister and three children, a new tragedy in Ukraine a few days after a deadly Russian strike in Dnipro.
Tragedy in Brovary. The number of victims has increased. At 10:30 a.m., 18 dead, including 3 children," said the governor of the region, Oleksiy Kulba, on Telegram. He said that "there are also 29 injured, including 15 children," raising fears of an even heavier toll.
On images circulating on social networks, one could see the remains of the helicopter mixed with debris, close to a car destroyed under the weight of metal. Firemen and police officers were on the scene, according to an AFP team.
Among the victims were Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky, 42, his first deputy Yevgeny Yenin, and the ministry's state secretary Yuriy Lubkovich, who were on board the aircraft along with six other people, the head of the Ukrainian national police said in a statement. "My colleagues, my friends. What a tragic loss. Sincere condolences to their families," Anton Gerachtchenko, an adviser to Monastyrsky, reacted on Twitter.
The purpose of this flight (was to go) to one of the hot spots in our country where the fighting is going on. The Minister of the Interior was going there," Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the presidential office, told Ukrainian television.
This former lawyer by profession was in office since July 2021. He had become a deputy in the Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, in 2019 under the label "Servant of the People", the presidential party.
The crash took place in Brovary, a city of some 100,000 inhabitants that touches the eastern suburbs of Kiev. Heavy fighting had taken place there between Ukrainians and Russians as Moscow's troops tried to break the lock on the capital in the first weeks of their invasion.
At the time of the tragedy, "children and employees" of the kindergarten located near the crash site were at the scene, Kouleba said. According to images published on social networks, a huge fire broke out after the helicopter fell, a residential building was also nearby. No information on the cause of the tragedy was immediately disclosed.
Earlier, Oleksiï Kouleba had said that "the circumstances" of this accident were "under development". The aircraft that crashed belonged to the State Emergency Service, which depends on the Ministry of the Interior, according to a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force. One of the last major accidents of this type in recent years in Ukraine dates back to September 2020 when 26 people died in the crash of an Antonov-26 near Kharkiv (northeast).
This new tragedy comes in the middle of the war with Russia, four days after a deadly strike in Dnipro, in eastern Ukraine. A Russian missile devastated a residential building on Saturday, killing at least 45 people including six children, one of the deadliest bombings since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February 2022.
The youngest victim "was 11 months old", lamented Tuesday evening the deputy head of the Cabinet of the Ukrainian presidency, Kyrylo Timoshenko, after more than three days of research. Under the rubble, the rescue workers had extracted injured people, but also lifeless bodies, trapped under huge sections of concrete.
This new strike on a civilian target has caused great emotion among the Ukrainian population, while the country has been fighting against the Russian invasion for nearly 11 months, often in very difficult conditions.
Emotionally, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to bring to justice "each person guilty of this war crime", pointing directly to the Russian army as responsible for this carnage. Moscow, for its part, has firmly denied any involvement in this bloody strike, as in previous episodes.