Kyiv, Ukraine — Ukraine’s interior minister was among at least 15 people killed in a helicopter crash near a kindergarten outside the capital Kyiv, President Vladimir Zelensky said Wednesday, calling it a “terrible tragedy.” According to him, among the dead are at least three children.
The video shows a large fire immediately after the incident, and screams could be heard from the scene. There was no immediate information on what caused the crash, whether it was believed to be an accident or related to Russia’s war against Ukraine continues.
Earlier, local officials put the death toll at 18, and Zelensky made it clear that the number of victims was still being confirmed.
The Associated Press agency, with reference to the head of the National Police of Ukraine Ihor Klimenko, reported that among the dead were Minister of Internal Affairs Dzianis Monastyrskyi, his deputy Yevgeny Yenin and State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lubkovych.
Nine of the dead were on board an emergency services helicopter, AP reports.
President Zelensky said in a statement published on social networks that the disaster caused him “indescribable” pain.
“I instructed the Security Service of Ukraine, in cooperation with the National Police of Ukraine and other authorized bodies, to find out all the circumstances of what happened,” he said in his feed in the Telegram messaging program. “As of this minute, 3 children have died.”
Monastyrski, a 42-year-old father of two, was appointed Minister of the Interior in 2021. He is the highest-ranking Ukrainian official who lost his life since then 11 months ago, Russia invaded UkraineReuters news service reports.
22 people were hospitalized, including 10 children.
Officials said there were children and staff at the daycare at the time of the accident.
Medics and police worked at the scene in the town of Brovary, about 12 miles northeast of Kiev.
Russian and Ukrainian forces fought for control of Brovary in the early stages of the Moscow invasion, until Russian forces retreated in early April.
The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, introduced troops into western Ukraine on February 24 of last year.
The accident followed a tragedy that killed at least 45 people, including six children. The rocket hit a residential building east of the Dnieper last weekend.