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April 10, 2010
My heart goes out to the People of Poland this horrific day after their President and First Lady and several other prominate leaders were killed in a plane crash. I cannot comprehend the grief this wonderful nation must been dealing with.
Here are the details from the folks at 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.
CNN is reporting that a spokesman for Poland's Foreign Ministry, Piotr Paszkowski, said earlier that it was probable that everyone on board was killed. The National Polish Bank President, and the Head of Polish Army was also feared killed.
The numbers varied on how many people were on board the plane. The Polish Foreign Ministry said 89 people died in the crash. The Russian Investigation Committee put the number at 132.
President Kaczynski, 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.
Te 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.
The Investigation Committee of the Russian prosecutor's office said the plane, a Tupolev-154, was trying to land in heavy fog.
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 said.
Kaczynski had been president since December 2005 after he defeated rival Donald Tusk in the second round of voting. Tusk is currently prime minister.
Crowds gathered at the presidential palace 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. Tusk and Polish cabinet ministers were holding a special meeting Saturday morning to discuss the situation, said a spokeswoman for the Polish Parliament, who declined to be named because she was not authorized to speak publicly.
Under Polish law, if something happens to the president, leadership transfers to the Parliament speaker, who is Bronislaw Komorowski, the spokeswoman said.
She said more information would come out after the meeting. "There is going to be a huge gap in public life in Poland," said resident Magdalena Hendrysiak. "The most important people are dead."
At the same time, Hendrysiak said, the president's death may have a unifying effect.
"I think it will be one of those situations that no one will care about their political preferences," she told CNN. "I think we're going to end up as pretty united in the face of such a tragedy."
Condolences poured in from around the world Saturday, including from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was campaigning in Scotland.
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