A helicopter crash near a kindergarten in the Kyiv region has killed at least 18 people, including Ukraine’s entire interior ministry leadership team, according to officials.
At least 29 others were injured in the incident on Wednesday in the city of Brovaryon the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital, according to Oleksiy Kuleba, head of the Kyiv Regional Military Administration.
Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky, First Deputy Minister Yevheniy Yenin and State Secretary Yuriy Lubkovychis died in the crash, Anton Geraschenko, a ministry adviser, confirmed on social media.
The nine people onboard the aircraft died, while the other casualties were locals “bringing their children to the kindergarten,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration.
Kuleba, speaking alongside Tymoshenko at the scene to reporters, added “there is currently no information on the number of missing children. Identification is ongoing. Parents are coming, lists are being compiled.”
A CNN team on the ground in the Kyiv region noted gray skies and very low visibility.
The helicopter that has crashed was a Eurocopter EC225 “Super Puma,” a CNN producer confirmed after seeing remnants of flight manuals among the debris.
It landed near a kindergarten and a residential building, Kuleba said earlier.
“At the time of the tragedy, there were children and the staff in the kindergarten. At the moment, everyone was evacuated,” he wrote on Telegram.
Paramedics, the police and firefighters are responding at the scene, Kuleba added.
In a written statement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the crash “a terrible tragedy,” adding that he has ordered the Ukrainian Security Services to “to find out all the circumstances.”
Zelensky ended his statement by saying the officials were “true patriots of Ukraine. May they rest in peace! May all those whose lives were taken this black morning rest in peace!”
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, also paid tribute to Monastyrsky as “a great friend of the EU.” Michel tweeted that the European Union joins Ukraine “in grief following the tragic helicopter accident in Brovary.”
In April 2022, Monastyrsky took CNN’s Fred Pleitgen to Chernobyl to visit abandoned Russian military positions where radioactive contamination had been revealed.