Polish President Lech Kaczynski Killed In Plane Crash


polish-president-lech-kaczynski-killed-in-plane-crash
A firefighter tries to extinguish the flames from the wreckage of the Polish government airplane that crashed near Smolensk airport (Reuters)

(Times) — The Polish president and his wife were killed in a plane crash this morning, according to Russian officials.

President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria were on board a flight which crashed at 10.56 Moscow time (0656GMT) near Smolensk airport.

Russian media is reporting that all 132 passengers were killed.

The Kaczynski’s were travelling with several senior government figures on a trip to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn forest massacre, in which thousands of Poles were executed by Soviet secret police.

Smolensk governor Sergei Anufriev made a statement to state news channel Rossiya-24 about an hour after the crash saying that there no survivors.

He said: “As it was preparing for landing, the Polish president’s aircraft did not make it to the landing strip.”

“According to preliminary reports, it got caught up in the tops of trees, fell to the ground and broke up into pieces. There are no survivors in that crash.”

The head of Russia’s top investigative body, Sergei Markin, said there were a total of 132 people on the plane.

The Polish Foreign Ministry has confirmed that Lech Kaczynski and his wife were on board the Tu-154 plane, flying from Moscow to Smolensk.

The Army chief of staff, General Franciszek Gagor, National Bank President Slawomir Skrzypek and Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremoer were also believed on the flight manifest.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has called an extraordinary meeting of his Cabinet in Warsaw.

Kaczynski, 60, became president in December 2005 after defeating Tusk in that year’s presidential vote.

The nationalist conservative was the twin brother of Poland’s opposition leader, former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Kaczynski was planning to run for a second term in the presidential elections this autumn.

Parliament speaker Bronislaw Komorowski, who was expected to be his main opposition in the race, could now take over presidential duties according to the Polish constitution.

Kaczynski’s wife, Maria, was an economist. They had a daughter, Marta, and two granddaughters.

April 10, 2010
Robin Henry

Source: The Times

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