(CNN) – A helicopter crash near a kindergarten in the Kyiv region has killed at least 16 people, including the senior team from Ukraine’s Interior Ministry who were traveling by plane, and three children on the ground, officials said.
At least 30 others, including 12 children, are hospitalized after the incident City of Brovary on Wednesday, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, head of Ukraine’s presidential administration.
Tymoshenko has revised down the number of people killed in the crash on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital – the previous death toll was 18.
Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky, First Deputy Minister Yevheniy Yenin and Secretary of State Yuriy Lubkovychis died, Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to the ministry, confirmed on social media.
All nine people on board the helicopter (six ministry officials and three crew members) were killed, and another seven died on the ground, including three children, Tymoshenko said. A search and rescue operation is ongoing, he added.
The Ukrainian security service SBU has launched an investigation into the crash and posted on Facebook that “several versions of the tragedy are being considered”.
These include: “violation of flight rules, technical malfunction of the helicopter (and) intentional acts to destroy the helicopter.”
There was no evidence of Russian involvement in this crash from any other Ukrainian officials. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the incident a “tragedy”.
A CNN team on the ground in the Kyiv region noticed gray skies and very poor visibility.
The crashed helicopter was a Eurocopter EC225 “Super Puma,” the CNN crew confirmed after seeing the remains of flight manuals under the rubble.
The State Emergency Medical Service of Ukraine (SES) said that this helicopter “repeatedly has been involved in transporting personnel to emergency locations.”
An SES statement posted on Facebook added: “The aircraft’s crew were trained to perform duties in difficult conditions and had the required number of flight hours.”
It landed near a kindergarten and an apartment building, Oleksiy Kuleba, head of the Kyiv regional military administration, said earlier.
“At the time of the tragedy, children and staff were in the kindergarten. At the moment everyone has been evacuated,” he wrote on Telegram.
Paramedics, police and firefighters are deployed at the scene, Kuleba added.
Home Office officials killed
In a written statement, President Zelenskyy called the crash “a terrible tragedy” and added that he had ordered the Ukrainian security services “to find out all the circumstances”.
Zelenskyy ended his statement by saying that the Interior Ministry officials are “true patriots of Ukraine”. May they rest in peace! May all who lost their lives on this black morning rest in peace!”
The officials are believed to be the most senior government officials to have died since Russia invaded Ukraine last February.
Monastyrsky, 42, was a trained lawyer. According to a biography published on the ministry’s website, he taught law and management at a university in his hometown of Khmelnytskyi for a few years before deciding to move “from theory to practice” and get involved in politics.
He worked on reforming Ukraine’s law enforcement after the 2014 Euromaidan revolution, rose through the ranks and was appointed interior minister in July 2021.
Last year, Monastyrsky accompanied a CNN crew on a visit to abandoned Russian military positions at Chernobyl.
The news of Monastyrsky’s death triggered a wave of reactions from many of his counterparts and other foreign leaders.
“Sad about the tragic death of Ukrainian Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky. Thoughts for all the victims of this terrible event that happened near a kindergarten, for the children and for the families,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly described Monastyrsky as “a true friend of Britain”.
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, also praised Monastyrsky as a “great friend of the EU”. Michel tweeted that the European Union joins Ukraine “in mourning after the tragic helicopter accident in Brovary.”
Jenin, also 42, was Ukraine’s deputy attorney general and deputy foreign minister before becoming Monastyrsky’s first deputy in September 2021, according to the ministry’s website.
Lubkovychis was 33 and, like the other two men, was appointed to the ministry in 2021.
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