Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi perished along with more than a dozen others when the helicopter he was on crashed into a kindergarten in a Kyiv suburb Wednesday.
The victims include at least one child who was on the ground and nine people aboard the emergency services helicopter, the Associated Press reported. Ukrainian officials initially believed up to 18 people had died in the crash, but the death toll was revised down to 14 people. The helicopter was flying in a dense fog before crashing, but Ukrainian authorities have launched an investigation to determine if the crash was an accident or if it was shot down.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “the pain is unspeakable” as he ordered officials to look into the cause of the tragedy. The death toll could still rise as officials continue to identify the remains.
Monastyrskyi, appointed as minister of Internal Affairs in 2021, oversaw the country’s police and emergency services. One of Monastyrskyi’s highest priorities was dealing with the fallout of Russian strikes and de-mining, according to political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko, who spoke with the AP.
Those riding with the interior minister on the helicopter included five Interior Ministry officials, a police officer, and three crew members, according to the AP. Ukraine Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba said two of his closest colleagues and friends were among the dead.
“Tragedy far from the frontline, in Brovary. My condolences to relatives of the victims, especially children. I wish a speedy recovery to those injured. Denys Monastyrskyi and Yevhenii Yenin were close colleagues & friends of mine, true Ukrainian patriots. Huge loss for all of us,” Kuleba wrote.
Ukraine is still reeling from a Russian missile strike that killed at least 45 people, including six children, in a nine-story apartment building in Dnipro last Saturday. The missile strike was one of the deadliest attacks on civilians since the start of the Russian invasion last February.