Polish president dead in aircraft accident

A Polish government aircraft carrying among others president Lech Kaczyński crashed earlier today during a landing attempt in bad weather at Smolensk in Russia on their way to attend the 70th anniversary cermonies for the victims of the Katyn Forest massacre. The plane carried between 88 and 130 persons - the numbers given vary this far - and no one survived the crash. Among other victims are the president's wife, Ryszard Kaczorowski who was the last non-communist president in exile of Poland, the army chief of staff, and relatives to the massacre victims of 1940.

In accordance with the Polish constitution, the speaker of the sejm (second chamber of the parliament) becomes acting president in case of the death of the incumbent president. In this instance, that post is currently held by Bronisław Komorowski, who is also the official opposition candidate for the scheduled presidential election later in the autumn this year. It is now however likely that the presidential election will be moved forward.

Sources: Le Monde, Euronews, ARD