Polish President, Wife Killed in Jet Crash

All aboard die when plane fails to reach Russian runway
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 10, 2010 5:07 AM CDT
Polish President, Wife Killed in Jet Crash
In this Sunday July 13, 2008 file photo, Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria attend a formal dinner after a Mediterranean Summit meeting at the Petit Palais in Paris.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

(Newser) – Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and some of the country's highest military and civilian leaders died when the presidential plane crashed as it came in for a landing in thick fog in western Russia today, killing all 96 aboard, officials said. The Soviet-era Tupolev was taking the president, his wife and staff to events marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police.

Army chief of staff Franciszek Gagor, National Bank President Slawomir Skrzypek, and Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer were also on board. "We still cannot fully understand the scope of this tragedy and what it means for us in the future," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. "We can assume with great certainty that all persons on board have been killed." "The Polish presidential plane did not make it to the runway while landing. Tentative findings indicate that it hit the treetops and fell apart," the regional governor said on Rossiya-24. The presidential Tu-154 was at least 20 years old. Polish officials have long discussed replacing the planes but said they lacked the funds. In Warsaw, PM Donald Tusk called an extraordinary meeting of his Cabinet. (Read more Lech Kaczynski stories.)

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