Eighteen people have been killed, including Ukraine’s interior affairs minister, after a helicopter crashed beside a kindergarten in an eastern suburb of the capital Kyiv.

Three children were among the dead and 15 more are being treated in hospital.

The minister, Denys Monastyrsky, was with eight others in the helicopter.

His first deputy minister and the state secretary also died, officials said, when the helicopter came down in the suburb of Brovary.

National police chief Ihor Klymenko wrote on Facebook that the helicopter belonged to Ukraine’s state emergency service.

Ukrainian reports said those on board the helicopter included six ministry officials and three crew.

First deputy minister Yevhen Yenin died along with state secretary Yurii Lubkovich, whose task was to organize the work of the ministry.

Before he moved to the interior ministry, Mr Yenin helped represent Ukraine’s government abroad.

Map of Brovary

Mr Tymoshenko said the interior ministry’s work would not be affected by the loss of its leaders.

His friend and MP Mariia Mezentseva said it was a tragedy for everyone as Mr Monastyrsky’s ministry had a significant role in Ukraine’s response to the invasion.

“He responded 24/7 to his colleagues, friends and family. He was very close to President Zelensky from day one of his presidential campaign,” she told the BBC.

National police chief Ihor Klymenko wrote on Facebook that the helicopter belonged to Ukraine’s state emergency service, while other officials said it appeared to be a French Super Puma aircraft.

“There was a huge flash,” said a woman described as a teacher at the kindergarten.

“Before that, there was the sound of something flying in the air, and we all went quiet. Then, after the flash, we heard an explosion. We lay down, and then quickly evacuated to a shelter.”

Three children were among the dead and 15 others were among the 29 people taken to hospital.

After the crash a fire broke out close to the kindergarten and children and staff were moved from the building. Wreckage from the helicopter was visible outside a burning building.

Interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said all three men were friends and statesmen who had worked to make Ukraine stronger.

“We will always remember you. Your families will be cared for,” he said on Facebook.

Ms Mezentseva said she had initially thought that the disaster was fake news: “But unfortunately it’s true.”

Source:bbc.com

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