Helicopter crash in Kiev kindergarten: 14 dead, including minister, deputy and state secretary | Abroad

Update with videoA government helicopter crashed in a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kiev this morning. Debris landed next to a kindergarten and several apartment buildings. According to the National Emergency Service (SES), fourteen people were killed in the drama, including Interior Minister Denis Monastirski (42) and a child.

Caspar Naber

Latest update:

Earlier today, emergency services spoke of at least 18 deaths, but revised that number down at 3:45 p.m. local time after search and rescue operations had ended. In addition to the interior minister, his first deputy Yevgeny Jenin and state secretary Jurii Lubkovich were also killed. Three other officials on board as well as the three-person helicopter crew also died in the crash in Brovary.

On the ground, one child was killed and eleven other children were injured. They all ended up in the hospital. A total of 25 people were injured, according to the SES. The accident caused a two-story building to burn. The kindergarten had to be evacuated.

Interior Minister Denis Monastirski, 42, had been in office since July 2021. Because his deputy was also killed, the government appointed the head of the national police, Ihor Klymenko, as acting interior minister hours after the crash.

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Helicopter wreck in Brovary. © ANP/EPA

Possible causes

President Zelensky, in a reply to Telegram, spoke of a “terrible tragedy” that caused “indescribable” suffering. He charged the Ukrainian intelligence service (SBU) with the investigation of the crash in cooperation with the national police. The security agency is keeping all options open for now, including a technical failure, violation of flight rules or deliberate destruction, she said. Attorney General Andri Kostin also stated earlier that all options are still open.

No attacks have been reported from the Kiev area in recent days. It was foggy at the time of the crash. Research must show whether it has played a role. Two witnesses stated that they had seen an object rushing towards the kindergarten from the north-west. “It moved around the height of the surrounding nine-story apartment buildings. It flew very low and I saw red colors on it,” a woman told the Reuters news agency.

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, reacted emotionally to the news this morning. “Another very sad day with new losses,” she said at the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

French unity

The crashed aircraft, an EC-225 Super Puma, was designed for long-haul passenger flights. The National Emergency Service said in a statement that the helicopter was “repeatedly engaged in carrying out tasks to transport personnel to emergency situations.” The crew was used to performing tasks ‘under difficult conditions’ and had ‘the necessary number of flight hours’.

A French defense official told the AP news agency on condition of anonymity that the helicopter was sold to Ukraine in 2019 and was not part of the equipment France has provided since the start of the war.

Although Ukrainian airspace is closed to private and commercial aircraft, the interior minister and his colleagues were on an official trip to a ‘hotspot’ at the front. So said Deputy Head of the President’s Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko. The government officials were on their way to the northeastern region of Kharkov, local police chief Volodimir Timoshko reported on Facebook.

According to political analyst Volodimir Fesenko, high-ranking officials routinely travel by helicopter because of the war in Ukraine. “Today’s drama may prompt Kiev to introduce a rule, which already applies in many European countries, that top officials are not allowed to fly on the same plane,” he told the AP news agency.

The area around the accident is cordoned off.
The area around the accident is cordoned off. © REUTERS

Emergency services at the kindergarten in Kiev where the helicopter crashed.  Inset: Minister of the Interior Denis Monastirski.
Emergency services at the kindergarten in Kiev where the helicopter crashed. Inset: Minister of the Interior Denis Monastirski. ©Getty Images

The helicopter came down in a residential area.
The helicopter came down in a residential area. © REUTERS

A kindergarten is on fire.
A kindergarten is on fire. ©Twitter

A picture of the crashed helicopter.
A picture of the crashed helicopter. ©Twitter

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