Polish President Dies in Air Crash in Russia

The Tu-154 passenger plane with Polish President Lech Kaczynski crashed some 300-400 meters from the runway near the Russian city of Smolensk on Saturday while landing in heavy fog, Polish Foreign Ministry press secretary Petr Paszkowski said.

Paszkowski said the Polish president was heading a delegation that was to attend the Katyn ceremonies in southwest Russia in honor of the mass killing of Polish officers on the brink of WWII.

According to a Russian Investigative Committee member, Vladimir Markin, there were 132 people on board the aircraft. Everyone on board the aircraft died.

"The plane crashed during landing after it caught onto a tree," Paszkowski said.

Kaczynski was traveling with his wife, Maria, as well as delegates from the Polish National Memorial Institute and the vice-speaker of the Polish Parliament, according to RIA Novosti.

Sergei Antufiev, regional governor of Smolensk, said there were no survivors in the crash. “It clipped the tops of the trees, crashed down and broke into pieces,” Antufiev told Russia-24 television news network by telephone. “There were no survivors.”

Under Poland’s constitution the duties of the president will be taken over by the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, Bloomberg informs.

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