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Polish president dies in air crash

10 April 2010 11:12

A passenger plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski has crashed on approach to Smolensk Airport in southwest Russia, killing all on board.

Russian news agencies reported all 132 on board died in the crash on Saturday, citing the Russia’s Emergencies Ministry.

“The plane scraped the tree tops, crashed and caught fire,” Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Piotr Pszkowski told TVN24 channel.

“On board were the president, accompanied by his wife, the army chief of staff and Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer,” he added.

There were no survivors in the crash, governor of the Smolensk region Sergei Antufiev said.

Kaczynski was on his way to Katyn where, together with representatives of the Katyn families, MPs and clergy he was to pay tribute to the Poles murdered by the Soviet Stalinist regime. It is estimated that some 22,000 Polish people were massacred by the Soviet People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) in March 1940.

The agencies also said the plane was a Tupolev Tu-154.

The crash occurred about 1.5 km (0.9 miles) from Smolensk Airport in foggy conditions.

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