KYIV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday the causes of a military plane crash which killed 26 people would be investigated promptly and impartially.
On Friday evening, a military transport plane carrying Air Force cadets crashed and caught fire on a highway in northeastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s National Emergency Service said there were already 27 people on board, 7 crew members and 20 students. Only one student can survive.
“Yesterday, as a result of a terrible tragedy… Ukraine lost 26 of its worthy sons,” Zelenskiy said on Facebook. “I insist that the causes of this plane crash be promptly clarified and that the investigation be objective and impartial.”
He declared Saturday a day of mourning.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said the Antonov An-26 crashed while attempting to land during a training session, adding that a black box containing flight data had been found.
Ukrainian authorities said they are investigating four possible causes of the crash, namely technical defects on the plane. Incorrect execution of the crew; incorrect execution of flight control; insufficient maintenance.
The National Security Agency, Ukraine’s national law enforcement agency, said the plane crashed five minutes after the crew were asked to land after the left engine of the twin-engined plane broke down.
“According to the preliminary information, the cadets did not directly control the aircraft – all flights were performed by the crew commander,” the State Security Service said in a statement on Saturday.
The crash occurred approximately 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) from the military airport.
These students come from Air Force Kharkiv University, administered by the Ministry of Defense.
The government said training flights of similar aircraft types have been suspended.