A helicopter carrying Ukraine’s interior minister and senior staff crashed near a kindergarten in Brovary, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Wednesday morning, killing at least 16 people including two children, according to Ukrainian officials and local media.
Ukrainian national police chief Igor Klymenmo said in a statement released on social media that Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky died in the crash of a Ukrainian emergency services helicopter, alongside the deputy interior minister and other key officials. The dead include at least two children, according to government reports. Rescue operations remain underway, according to police officials.
The incident is currently believed to be a technical malfunction and not the work of the Russian military, but officials said an investigation was underway.
Footage from the scene posted by the former spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy showed extensive damage to what appears to be a school. Other social media posts of a badly damaged playground with at least one dead adult could be seen amid the burning wreckage of the Mi-17 helicopter.
At least 22 people have been hospitalised including 10 children, according to a report by the Moscow Times, which is now based outside of Russia.
Monastyrsky, 42, was a prominent figure in Ukraine’s security establishment, responsible for commanding the national police, prosecutors, and domestic intelligence service tasked with rooting out Russian spies. Interior Ministry troops – including border guards, paramilitary police and counter-terrorism units – have played a crucial role in fighting the nearly year old Russian invasion.
Prior to the war with Russia, Monastyrsky was appointed as Ukraine’s top law enforcement officer by Zelenskyy in an effort to combat the country’s pre-war endemic government corruption, after a stint in parliament as chair of a key committee on law enforcement.
Update: The death toll was revised to 16 several hours after the crash.