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PM Miller in hospital after helicopter crash-lands near Warsaw

Prime Minister Leszek Miller was in hospital on the night of Thursday 4 December after his Soviet-era helicopter crash-landed near Warsaw, Polish Television reported. Miller was being treated for spinal injuries after he emerged from the 26-year-old Mi-8 helicopter.

The craft had to make an emergency landing after both engines failed. It apparently struck some trees before landing heavily in a field near Gora Kalwaria, 12 miles from Warsaw. Witnesses spoke of the helicopter falling out of the sky. Eleven other passengers and crew were injured. Miller was returning from the south of Poland where he had opened a new stretch of motorway and attended a copper miners' celebration.

A spokesman for Miller told Polish Television that the prime minister was able to walk off the helicopter unaided, but he had suffered "bruises" in the crash. One of Miller's bodyguards was seriously injured after being trapped in the wreckage. Miller is expected to be in hospital for a week and has cancelled a trip he was due to make to Ireland on Friday 5 December.

A doctor at Warsaw's interior ministry hospital said that the prime minister had two broken vertebrae. Polish Television noted that the government helicopter was used by the Pope when he visited the country.

(NewsBase 08.xii.03)

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