Fourteen people, including Ukraine’s interior minister and a child, were killed when a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten in Kiev on Wednesday, officials said.
Ukraine’s state emergency service and interior ministry said 25 people were also injured, including 11 children, when the helicopter crashed in Brovary, an eastern suburb. Authorities initially said the incident killed 18 people, including three children, before revising the numbers.
It was not immediately clear whether the crash was an accident or related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There has been no fighting in the Kyiv region since April, when Russian troops withdrew after failing to capture the capital.
“Today, a terrible tragedy happened in Brovari. The pain is indescribable. The helicopter fell on the territory of one of the kindergartens,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Telegram. “I instructed the Security Service of Ukraine to, in cooperation with the National Police of Ukraine and other competent authorities, find out all the circumstances of what happened.”
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said: “The causes of the tragedy are being determined.” We will find out soon whether it is sabotage, a technical failure, a violation of flight safety rules.
The helicopter belonged to the SES, which said the accident happened at 8:20 a.m. The ambulance building, a 14-story residential building and three vehicles, as well as a kindergarten, were damaged. A fire broke out on the spot, which was extinguished an hour later, according to SES.
Ihor Klimenko, the head of the national police, wrote on Facebook that Denis Monastirsky, the interior minister, was killed, as were his deputy, Yevhen Yenin, and State Secretary Yuriy Lubkovich, a senior ministry official. Zelensky called all three “true patriots of Ukraine”.
Klimenko, who will oversee the ministry until Monastirski’s successor is named, said all nine adults on board the helicopter, including SES crew members and ministry staff, were among the dead. The helicopter was flying from the capital to Kharkiv when it crashed, said Volodymyr Tymoshenko, the police chief of the northeastern region.
“It’s tragic. So far there is no evidence that it was anything other than a tragic accident,” Ben Wallace, the British defense secretary, told reporters in Belfast. “This does not change our decision.”
Videos and photos shared by authorities show the wreckage of the helicopter smoldering near the building’s entrance and bodies on the ground nearby.
Yuriy Ignat, a spokesman for the Air Force, said the helicopter was an AS332 Super Puma donated to Ukraine by France. Ignat said the helicopters were intended specifically for the SES and the Ministry of the Interior and were used for tasks “closer to hostilities”.
A lawyer by training, Monastirski, 42, was born in the western city of Khmelnytskyi. He was elected to the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) on the list of the Green Party Servants of the People in 2019 and was the chairman of the parliamentary committee for law enforcement. He was appointed to head the interior ministry in July 2021. He was a close ally of the president and regularly traveled with Zelensky to visit Ukrainian troops at the front.
Jenin, 42, was also a lawyer by training. He worked in the security and foreign intelligence services before he was a diplomat. From 2016 to 2019, he was Deputy Prosecutor General, and from 2020 to 2021, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. He started his position in the Ministry of Internal Affairs in September 2021.
Lubkovich, 33, from western Ternopil Oblast, was appointed to the ministry on November 17, 2021.
Additional reporting by Roman Olearchic and Jude Weber