Saturday, April 10, 2010

Polish president killed in plane crash from CNN.com

(CNN) -- Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed early Saturday
when the plane he was traveling in with his wife and a Polish
delegation crashed at a western Russian airport, according to the
Russian regional governor.

"There are no survivors," said Smolensk Governor Sergey Antufyev,
according to his spokesman.

Eight-nine people died in the plane crash, a Polish Foreign Ministry
official told CNN.

The president, 60, had been traveling with a Polish delegation to
Russia for the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Polish prisoners of
war in the village of Katyn. Some 20,000 Polish officers were executed
there during World War II.

The plane was approaching the airport at Smolensk, Russia -- just a
few miles east of Katyn -- and probably hit some trees at the end of
the runway, Paszkowski said.

Pictures from the scene showed parts of the airplane charred and
strewn through a wooded area. Some pieces, including one of the wheel
wells, were upside-down.

The crash happened around 10:50 a.m. (2:50 a.m. ET) on the outskirts
of the town of Pechorsk, just outside of Smolensk, the Investigation
Committee of the Russian prosecutor's office said in a written
statement on its Web site.

The Tupolev-154 was landing in heavy fog, the committee said.

The chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe expressed his condolences after the crash.

"I offer my deepest condolences to the Polish people and to the
families of those killed in this tragic accident. Our hearts go out to
you in this difficult time," said Kanat Saudabayev, who is also the
secretary of state and foreign minister of Kazakhstan.

Kaczynski had been president since December 2005 after he defeated
rival Donald Dusk in the second round of voting.

Crowds gathered in Warsaw to lay flowers and light candles for the
president, whose death raises questions for Poland's government.

"Everything has changed today," said Jan Mikruta, a reporter for TV Polsat.

Mikruta said the government was gathering for a special session
Saturday morning. According to the Polish constitution, he said,
leadership now transfers to Polish Parliament Speaker Bronislaw
Komorowski.

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