Ukraine military plane crash death toll increases

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Searchers combing the area where a Ukrainian military aircraft crashed have found two more bodies, bringing the death toll to 26.

One person survived after the plane, a twin-turboprop Antonov-26 belonging to the Ukrainian air force which was carrying 20 military cadets and a crew of seven, crashed and burst into flames on Friday night.

The aircraft was coming in to land at the airport in Chuhuiv, about 250 miles east of the capital Kyiv, when the incident occurred.

Ukraine Plane Crash
A view of the debris and remains of the AN-26 military plane (Emergency Situation Ministry/AP)

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 an investigation into the cause of the crash.

Mr 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 has called for an official report on the crash by October 25.

In a statement released by his office, Mr Zelenskiy said: “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.

Ukraine Plane Crash
Tributes left at the site (Emergency Situation Ministry via AP)

Deputy defence minister Igor Starobinksy said the families of the dead would each be paid compensation of about 1,500,000 hryvna (£44,000).

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.

Relatives of the victims
Relatives of crash victims mourn at the scene (Emergency Situation Ministry/AP)

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

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 take-off 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.

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