Polish President Kaczynski, Wife, Over 130 Passengers Die In Plane Crash
Just coming in via Breaking News Online:
Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife were killed when the presidential plane crashed near an airport in western Russia.
A total of 87 people were on board the Tupolev 154 aircraft. There were no survivors.
That passenger count has been revised to over 130; see update below. An earlier BBC report added these details:
The plane was reportedly heading to an airport in the western city of Smolensk when it crashed.
Mr Kaczynski was due to visit Smolensk to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, when Soviet troops killed thousands of Poles.
The Russian emergencies ministry told Itar-Tass news agency the plane crashed at 1056 Moscow time (0656 GMT).
Ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said it had been flying from Moscow to Smolensk, but had no details on the identities of those killed.
The Polish Foreign Ministry said the president and his wife were aboard the plane, according to the Associated Press news agency.
The London Daily News adds:
Polish Londoners are waking up to the news that their president Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife have been killed in a tragic aviation disaster, when a plane from Warsaw destined for the Russian city Smolensk crashed killing at least 87 people.
Breaking News Online now lists the passenger count as 132, with no survivors.
Update: AP confirms death of Kaczynski and spouse among the passengers.
Late Update (10:40 AM PDT): Arthur Chrenkoff explores "The Curse of Katyn": "Seventy years after the Katyn Massacre, the president of Poland — and many other Poles — have died on Russian soil."
Glenn Reynolds sardonically quips, "Some people are suspicious. Nonsense. With Vladimir Putin taking personal charge of the investigation, the truth is certain to come out."
Heh. In the meantime, the first comment under this post, from someone named "Michał Borsuk," added less than an hour after my post went live, was a helpful reminder that this isn't any Putin-fueled conspiracy -- which is certainly reassuring, since I never said it was, nor did the initial reports I quoted above.
I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks, but at least for now, I think this headline by Orrin Judd sums up the incident based on the early reporting, far better than any conspiracy theories.
Update: Richard Fernandez on "The Woods of Smolensk."