Ukraine helicopter crash kills interior minister, with three children among 18 deaths

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By Euronews  with AP
Firefighters work near the site where a helicopter crashed near Kyiv killing 18 people, including interior minister.18 January 2023
Firefighters work near the site where a helicopter crashed near Kyiv killing 18 people, including interior minister.18 January 2023   -   Copyright  AFP

A helicopter crash in a Kyiv suburb Wednesday killed at least 18 people, including Ukraine’s interior minister and three children.

There was no immediate word on whether the crash was an accident or a result of the war with Russia. No fighting has been reported recently in the Kyiv area.

Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, his deputy Yevhen Yenin and State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Yurii Lubkovych were among those killed, according to officials.

Monastyrskyi, who was in charge of the Ukrainian police and other emergency services, is the most senior Ukrainian official to have died since the start of the war with Russia almost 11 months ago.

Nine of those killed were aboard the emergency services helicopter that crashed in Brovary, an eastern suburb of the Ukrainian capital, Klymenko said.

Kyiv Regional Governor Oleksii Kuleba confirmed three children were also killed. Earlier, officials and media reports said the helicopter crashed near a kindergarten.

A total of 29 people were injured, including 15 children.

“For now, we are considering all possible versions of the helicopter crash accident,” Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, said on Telegram.

The investigation is being carried out by the Security Service of Ukraine, he said.

Efrem Lukatsky/AP
FILE - Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 18, 2022.Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Reaction from Ukraine and around Europe

Ukraine first lady, Olena Zelenska, daubed teary eyes and pinched her nose in emotion minutes before attending a World Economic Forum session in Davos, Switzerland.

“Another very sad day today -- new losses," she said.

Forum President Børge Brende requested 15 seconds of silence after opening the session to honor the Ukrainian officials killed in the crash.

British foreign minister James Cleverly said the interior minister was "a true friend of the UK." 

Meanwhile Ursula von der Leyen said the tragedy "strikes at the heart" of Ukraine, and passed on her condolences to President Zelenskyy and the families of the victims; while the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola said she was "heartbroken" by the news of the crash and loss of lives. 

The crash came just four days after a Russian missile strike on an apartment building in southeastern Ukraine killed 45 civilians, including six children -- the deadliest attack on civilians since the spring.