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Lech Laczynski – 1949-2010

Maria Kaczynska – 1943-2010

Polish President Lech Kaczynski, 60, his wife Maria Kaczynska and many of his country’s highest military and civilian leaders perished on Saturday April 10 when the presidential plane crashed near Smolensk in Western Russia while attempting to land in heavy fog.

The Tupolev-154 aircraft carried 96 passengers who had planned to attend an event marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre, where thousands of Polish officers were killed by Soviet secret police in 1940.

Photos from the scene showed parts of the airplane charred and strewn throughout a wooded area. The crash occurred on Saturday morning around 10:50 a.m. on the outskirts of Pechorsk.

Kaczynski became president in December 2005. Polish cabinet ministers were holding a special meeting Saturday morning. Under Polish law, leadership temporarily transfers to the Parliament speaker, who is Bronislaw Komorowski. He must announce early elections within 14 days of the president’s death, with a vote to be held within 60 days – likely before June 20.

Kaczynski and his wife are survived by a daughter Marta, 30, who graduated from the Department of Law at Gdansk University. She is married and has a 7-year-old daughter Ewa.

More photos and video coverage below: