- The helicopter went down in fog near the nursery, which started a fire
- One in 14 children was confirmed dead
- The interior minister and two senior officials have been killed
BROVARY, Ukraine, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Fourteen people including Ukraine’s interior minister and a child were killed when a helicopter crashed in fog near a nursery outside Kyiv on Wednesday, in what President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called a “terrible tragedy”.
Several bodies lay on the ground floor, their shoes sticking out of blankets, after the helicopter – described by a French army spokesman as the French Super Puma – crashed into a house in Brovary, north-east of the capital.
The accident caused a huge fire, and the whole part of the local nursery was burnt. The governor of Kyiv region said children and staff were in the nursery at the time of the accident shortly after 08:00 (06:00 GMT).
Officials say it is too late to determine the cause of the accident. No one has said anything about an attack on Russian troops fighting in Ukraine.
“We saw injured people, we saw children. There was a lot of fog here, everything was everywhere. We heard cries, we ran there,” said Hlib, 17 years old.
“We took the children and passed them through the fence, away from the nursery because there was a fire, especially in the second room,” he said near the nursery, where people were leaving flowers and soft toys for a small makeshift memorial.
The country’s police chief confirmed that Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi was killed along with his first deputy, Yevheniy Yenin, and the ministry’s secretary of state. Monastyrskyi was 42 years old and had been the interior minister since July 2021.
A few hours after the accident, the government appointed the head of the country’s police, Ihor Klymenko, as the minister of the interior.
The State Emergency Service put 14 people, including three helicopter crew members and six passengers on board. One child died on the ground and 11 other children were among the 25 injured, it said. The agency previously reported the number of refunds, which it revised without explanation.
Vitaliy, 56, said he saw the helicopter rapidly descend and crash into a nursery yard in the middle of the house’s yard. The debris continued on its way to the neighborhood, he said.
The wreckage of the helicopter was later crushed by a block of flats, the rotors resting on the door.
Above the dangerous entrance to the two-story nursery building was a hole that was several meters long.
“There was no explosion. I thought it was an engine from a rocket or something like that, something very big, about 10 meters,” said Vitaliy.
Explaining the big fire that broke out later, he said: “The room I was in started to get hot. “It was really scary.”
THE INVESTIGATION BEGINS
“Today, a great tragedy happened in Brovary, Kyiv region,” Zelenskiy said on the Telegraph news program. “His pain is indescribable.”
The SBU State Security Service said it is investigating and considering several possible causes of the crash, including violations of aviation regulations, technical failure and deliberate damage to the helicopter.
Two witnesses reported seeing an object moving toward the nursery from the northwest.
“It was about the height of a building … nine stories high. It was very low, and I saw red colors,” said one woman.
The accident was yet another tragedy in Ukraine, just days after 45 people were killed in a building that collapsed when Russia shelled the eastern city of Dnipro.
Air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said it would take several weeks to investigate the crash.
British writer Suella Braverman called Monastyrskyi “a leading light in helping the Ukrainian people” during the Russian war and said she was impressed by his determination, optimism and patriotism.
Reports by Max Hunder in Brovary and Tom Balmforth in Kyiv; Additional reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Edited by Timothy Heritage
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.