The Polish president and his wife were killed in a plane crash this morning, according to Russian officials.
President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria were on board a flight which crashed at 10.56 Moscow time (0656 GMT) near Smolensk airport.
Russian media is reporting that all 132 passengers were killed.
The Kaczynski’s were travelling with several senior government figures on a trip to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn forest massacre, in which thousands of Poles were executed by Soviet secret police.
Smolensk governor Sergei Anufriev made a statement to state news channel Rossiya-24 about an hour after the crash saying that there were no survivors.
He said: “As it was preparing for landing, the Polish president’s aircraft did not make it to the landing strip.”
“According to preliminary reports, it got caught up in the tops of trees, fell to the ground and broke up into pieces. There are no survivors in that crash.”
The head of Russia’s top investigative body, Sergei Markin, said there were a total of 132 people on the plane.
The Polish Foreign Ministry has confirmed that Lech Kaczynski and his wife were on board the Tu-154 plane, flying from Moscow to Smolensk.
The Army chief of staff, General Franciszek Gagor, National Bank president Slawomir Skrzypek and Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremoer were also believed to be on the flight manifest.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has called an emergency meeting of his Cabinet in Warsaw.
Kaczynski, 60, became president in December 2005 after defeating Tusk in that year’s presidential vote.
The nationalist conservative was the twin brother of Poland’s opposition leader, former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
Kaczynski was planning to run for a second term in the presidential elections this autumn.
Parliament speaker Bronislaw Komorowski, who was expected to be his main opposition in the race, could now take over presidential duties according to the Polish constitution.
Kaczynski’s wife, Maria, was an economist. They had a daughter, Marta, and two granddaughters.
— From Times Online
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
As you comprehend this profound loss, let yourself cry knowing each tear is a note of love rising to the heavens. God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be. So He put His arms around you and whispered “come to me.” With tearful eyes we watched you, and saw you pass away. Although we loved you dearly, we could not make you stay. A golden heart stopped beating, hardworking hands at rest. God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best.
What moves through us is a silence, a quiet sadness, a longing for one more day, one more word, one more touch, we may not understand why you left this earth so soon, or why you left before we were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget.
May you take comfort in knowing an angel is watching over you.