A helicopter crashed Wednesday near a kindergarten outside Ukraine's capital, killing at least 16 people, including Ukraine's minister for internal affairs and three children, outlets report. The minister, Denys Monastyrsky, is the highest-ranking government official to die since the war with Russia began, according to the New York Times. Yevhen Yenin, the first deputy minister for internal affairs, and state secretary Yurii Lubkovich are reportedly also among the dead. Reuters describes bodies laying in a courtyard following the crash in the Kyiv suburb of Brovary, which occurred around 8:20am local time.
An official from the president's office said six government officials and three crew members had been traveling to a "hot spot" in Ukraine. All were killed. The rest of the dead are children, parents, or other victims on the ground. Another 30 people were hospitalized with injuries, including 12 children, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the president's office, per CNN. Several people suffered burns, per Reuters. The kindergarten and a 14-story residential building were damaged as the helicopter went down, sparking a large fire, according to the outlets.
It's a "terrible tragedy" and "the pain is unspeakable," President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement, adding authorities were ordered "to find out all the circumstances of what happened." Tymoshenko said it would take time to determine a cause and urged witnesses to come forward. One woman reported seeing the State Emergency Service helicopter in flames and spinning in a circle before crashing, per the Times, though the outlet reports there are no initial signs that it was shot down. Another witness described "a lot of fog" in the area at the time, per Reuters. (Read more Ukraine stories.)