Ukraine plane crash death toll rises to 26, with one survivor

MOSCOW (AP) — Searchers combing the area where a Ukrainian military aircraft crashed found two more bodies yesterday, bringing the death toll to 26. One person survived.

The plane, a twin-turboprop Antonov-26 belonging to the Ukrainian air force, was carrying a crew of seven and 20 cadets of a military aviation school when it crashed and burst into flames on Friday night while coming in for landing at the airport in Chuhuiv, about 400 kilometres east of the capital Kyiv.

Two people initially survived the crash, but one later died in a hospital. No cause for the crash has been determined.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy declared yesterday to be a day of mourning for the crash victims and ordered that flights of An-26 planes be halted pending investigation into the cause of the crash.

Zelenskiy, who visited the crash area yesterday, called for a full assessment of the condition of the country’s military equipment. Prime Minister Denis Shygal called for an official report on the crash by October 25.

“Yesterday we lost young cadets and experienced military men, who had their whole lives and, I am sure, more than one military feat ahead of them,” Zelenskiy said in a statement released by his office.

“The whole country will mourn today with their families.”

Deputy Defence Minister Igor Starobinksy said the families of the dead would each be paid compensation of about UAH1,500,000.