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Polish President killed in plane crash

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Polish President killed in plane crash


Polish President Lech Kaczynski has died in a plane crash near an airport in western Russia, which killed all passengers on board.

Estimates of the number of deaths range from 89 to 132, according to Russian and Polish officials.

The presidential plane came down in a forest as it tried to land at Smolensk airport.

The accident happened at 7:00 GMT with the runway shrouded in early morning fog.

Russian officals at the scene said there were no survivors. Warsaw later confirmed Kacyznski’s death.

The presidential plane left Warsaw early on Saturday for Smolensk for an event to mark the 70th aniversary of the Katyn massacre, when Soviet troops murdered thousands of Poles.

Kaczynski was travelling with his wife at the time along with other government officials and journalists.

The governor of Poland’s central bank, Slawomir Skrzypek, was also among the dead.

A Smolensk regional government spokesman told the Reuters news agency that pilot error was to blame for the accident.

Authorities have begun searching the wreckage to recover the bodies of the victims.

The aircraft was a 20-year-old Tupolev 154. According to the Aviation Safety Network, there have been 66 crashes involving this type of aircraft.

Russian carrier Aeroflot recently withdrew its fleet of Tupolev-154s from service over safety concerns.

There had been calls in Poland to upgrade the president’s plane but it was never replaced due to a lack of funds.

Kacyznski, who was 60, came to power in 2005. Warsaw has said it will now hold a fresh vote as result of his death.

Names of officials who have died:

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