Death toll in Ukraine plane crash rises to 26, with 1 survivor

In this photo released by Kharkiv Regional State Administration, wreckage of an AN-26 military plane seen after it crashed in the town of Chuguyiv close to Kharkiv, Ukraine, late Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. A Ukrainian military plane carrying students at an aviation school crashed and burst into flames while landing, killing more than twenty people. Two other people on board were seriously injured and four people were missing. (Kharkiv Regional State Administration via AP)

Searchers combing the area where a Ukrainian military aircraft crashed found two more bodies Saturday, 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 Friday night while coming in for landing at the airport in Chuhuiv, about 400 kilometres east of the capital Kyiv.

Read more: Ukraine military plane crashes, killing at least 22 people

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 Saturday 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.

Story continues below advertisement

Zelenskiy, who visited the crash area Saturday, 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 Oct. 25.

Click to play video: 'At least 22 dead after military plane crash in Ukraine' At least 22 dead after military plane crash in Ukraine
At least 22 dead after military plane crash in Ukraine – Sep 25, 2020

“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 1,500,000 hryvna ($56,000).

The An-26 is a transport plane used by both military and civilian operators. Nearly 1,400 of the planes were manufactured from 1969 to 1986, according to the company’s website. Defence Minister Andrei Taran said the plane that crashed was built in 1977.

Story continues below advertisement

An An-26 chartered by a contractor for the World Food Program crashed on Aug. 22 while taking off from Juba in South Sudan, killing seven people.

In a tweet Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the news “incredibly sad.”

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost a loved one in the military plane crash, and we’re wishing a full recovery to the survivors,” he wrote. “Canadians are keeping you all in our thoughts tonight.”

In a series of tweets Saturday, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne offered his “deepest condolences,” to the families and loved ones of the victims.

Story continues below advertisement

“Canada will always stand with the Ukrainian people,” he wrote.

Champagne said he had spoken with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

Story continues below advertisement

“I also offered any assistance that Ukraine may need in these difficult times,” Champagne said.

Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, offered his condolences on Saturday too.

The @CanadianForces and I offer our deepest condolences to our Ukrainian friends & allies, as well as to Ukraine’s Air Force & the entire Armed Forces of Ukraine,” he wrote.

The crash was the second large air disaster to afflict Ukraine this year. In January, a Boeing 737 belonging to Ukraine International Airlines was shot down shortly after takeoff from the airport in Tehran, Iran, killing all 176 people aboard.

The plane was shot down by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards amid high tensions after the United States killed a top general in a drone strike.

Story continues below advertisement

–With files from Global News

Sponsored content