At least 15 people, including Ukraine’s interior minister, have been killed after a helicopter crashed in a suburb of the capital, Kyiv, according to Ukrainian emergency services.
Three children were among the dead and more than 20 others wounded in Wednesday’s incident were being treated in hospital, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) said. A local official had earlier put the death toll at 18.
There was no immediate official statement on the cause of the crash. Russia, which invaded Ukraine nearly 11 months ago, has yet to comment.
Here is what we know so far:
Where did the helicopter crash?
The helicopter came down at about 8:20am local time (06:20 GMT) near a nursery and residential building in the town of Brovary, on the Ukrainian capital’s northeastern outskirts.
Videos shared on social media showed a burning building at the purported location where the helicopter came down. People could be heard screaming in the footage.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, said the helicopter – which belonged to Ukraine’s emergency services – was flying towards frontline positions in the country’s east when it crashed.
How many people were killed?
The SESU said in a Facebook post that nine people had been on board the helicopter in total. It was not immediately clear if any of the passengers had survived.
In total, 15 people were confirmed to have been killed as of 11:00am local time (09:00 GMT), the SESU said. The death toll included three children, it added.
A further 25 people, including 15 adults and 10 children, were hospitalised with wounds sustained in the incident, the SESU said.
Earlier, Oleksiy Kuleba, the governor of Kyiv region, had said 18 people were killed in the crash.
Who was on board?
Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyy, his deputy Yevhen Yenin and State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Yurii Lubkovych were among thosetravelling on the helicopter.
All three were killed in the crash, according to Ukraine’s national police chief Ihor Klymenko.
Monastyrskyy was in charge of the Ukrainian police and other emergency services.
What caused the crash?
It was not immediately clear what had caused the helicopter to come down.
Ukrainian officials did not provide an immediate explanationand made no reference to any Russian attack in the area at the time.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, said authorities had launched an investigation into the incident.
“For now, we are considering all possible versions of the helicopter crash accident,” Kostin said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.
There was no immediate comment from Russia.
What has been the reaction?
Ukrainian officials lamented the death toll from Wednesday’s incident, which came just four days after a Russian missile strike on an apartment building in the central city of Dnipro killed 45 civilians, including six children.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the helicopter crash was a “terrible tragedy” that had caused “unspeakable” pain.
“I have instructed the Security Service of Ukraine, in cooperation with the National Police of Ukraine and other authorised bodies, to find out all the circumstances of what happened,” Zelenskyy said in a post on the Telegram messaging app, hailing the interior ministry leadership team who lost their lives as “true patriots” of Ukraine,
Prime Minister Denys Shmygal echoed Zelenskyy’s message and described the death of Monastyrskyy as a “great loss” for Ukraine’s government.
“My sincere condolences to the families of all the victims,” Shmygal said in a Telegram post.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto also called the crash “a very tragic event”.
“It’s a very sad day,” he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum. “Children are [also] involved in this accident and are in intensive care, so this is a very dramatic event.”