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President of Poland Lech Kaczynski Killed in Plane Crash in Russia

    25 January 2021 Monday

    A plane carrying the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, his wife and other high-ranking officials crashed in a heavy fog in western Russia on Saturday morning, killing all aboard, Polish officials said.

    A plane with 87 people on board, including Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski, was on a way to Smolensk, where Polish leader was going to participate on commemoration ceremonies, mourning for victims of the Katyn massacre, when Soviet troops killed thousands of Poles.

    Officials in Russia said the plane hit trees as it came down in thick fog on its approach to the airport in the western city of Smolensk.

    The governor of the Smolensk region said no one survived.

    "The Polish presidential plane did not make it to the runway while landing. Tentative findings indicate that it hit the treetops and fell apart," Sergei Anufriev said on state news channel Rossiya-24. "Nobody has survived the disaster."

    The crash occurred some 1.5 km from Smolensk airport.

    "The plane caught fire after the crash. Teams began attempting to pull out passengers from the badly damaged airplane," a Polish foreign ministry spokesman in Warsaw said.

    Major delegation

    Kaczynski was in Russia to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre. He was to visit Katyn, near Smolensk, to commemorate Russian and Polish victims of Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

    Russian news agencies said 132 people were aboard the Tupolev Tu-154.

    They included Kaczynski's wife Maria as well as several high-ranking officials - the chief of Poland's military Franciszek Gagor, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer as well as Central bank governor Slawomir Skrzypek.

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