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Ukraine plane crash death toll rises to 26, with 1 survivor

Wreckage of the AN-26 military plane is 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. (AP Photo)

MOSCOW (AP) — Searchers combing the area where a Ukrainian military aircraft crashed found two more bodies on 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 kilometers (250 miles) 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 Saturday to be a day of mourning for the crash victims and ordered that flights of An-26 planes be halted pending investigation of the crash cause.

Zelenskiy, who visited the crash area on Saturday, called for a full assessment of the condition of the country’s military equipment and said he wanted an official report on the crash by Oct. 25.

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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. The age of the plane that crashed Friday was not immediately reported.

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.

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