The death toll from the crash of a Ukrainian Air Force transport plane during a training flight in the east of the country has risen to at least 26 people, most of the students at a military school, according to the latest toll released on Saturday.
And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Facebook post that “Ukraine lost 26 of its children,” declaring a national day of mourning on Saturday.
The ill-fated plane was carrying 27 people, including seven crew members and 20 students at the National Institute of the Ukrainian Air Force in Kharkiv (east), when it crashed on Friday.
Two students survived the disaster at first, but one of them died on Saturday morning after his condition was “very serious,” according to the health minister.
The second suffers from a concussion in the brain, but his life is not in danger, according to a source in the military clinic treating him.
The Antonov 26 plane crashed Friday at 20:50 local time (1750 GMT) during a training flight two kilometers from the Chuhev military base, near Kharkiv, according to the emergency service.
According to preliminary information, the pilot reported an engine failure seven minutes before its crash and requested an emergency landing, according to a statement issued by the Ukrainian security services.
The statement indicated that the students did not participate in piloting the plane.
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Defense Minister Andre Taran confirmed that “the plane most likely landed on its wing,” according to a statement issued by his ministry.
He noted that the aircraft, built-in 1977, was still capable of flying for three years.
The city of Chuhiv has a population of 30,000 and is located about thirty kilometers southeast of Kharkiv. It is about a hundred kilometers to the west of the front line that separates the Ukrainian government-controlled areas from those in the hands of pro-Russian separatists.
The Antonov An-26 is a light transport aircraft designed in Ukraine during the Soviet era. It is 24 meters long and can fly at a speed of 440 km / h.
Ukraine has witnessed several military aircraft accidents during training flights in recent years.