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Ukraine military plane crash kills 26; lone survivor praised for “heroism”

Ukraine’s president visited the lone survivor of the crash in a military hospital, posting a picture of the 20-year-old.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday praised the only survivor of a military plane crash as the death toll climbed to 26, after another cadet died and three more bodies were found. Zelensky went to the scene of the tragedy near the northeastern city of Kharkiv where an Antonov AN-26 transport plane carrying 20 air force cadets and seven officers crashed during a training flight on Friday evening.

“Ukraine has lost 26 worthy sons,” Zelensky said on Facebook, referring to the cadets and officers of the Kharkiv National Air Force University.

This undated photo provided by the Ukraine’s Police on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020 shows a group photo of cadets from the military aviation school killed in an AN-26 military plane crash. / AP

“It is difficult to find words to express the pain of this loss,” he said, declaring Saturday a day of mourning.

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The plane burst into flames on landing near a highway more than one mile from the Chuguiv military air base.

An eyewitness told Reuters he had seen a man in flames running from the wreckage. “Another car stopped behind us. We took a fire extinguisher and ran with another driver to help him,” he said.

On Saturday, the death toll rose after three more bodies were found under the charred remains of the plane and one of the two survivors died in hospital from extensive burns.

Zelensky visited the only remaining survivor in a military hospital in Kharkiv, posting a picture of the 20-year-old cadet lying in bed with a bandaged head and right arm.

20-річний В’ячеслав Золочевський народився в сорочці. Сьогодні він фактично святкує другий день народження. Вночі В’… Posted by Володимир Зеленський on Saturday, September 26, 2020

He said the cadet, Vyacheslav Zolochevsky, “came to his senses near the wreckage of the AN-26.”

“The plane was destroyed, there was fire, darkness and bodies all around. One of the guys was burning,” he said on Facebook, adding that Zolochevsky rushed to try and save him.

The second cadet died in hospital, the Ukrainian president said, as he praised Zolochevsky for his “heroism.”

“Ukraine is proud of you!” he said.

Doctors said that…

CBS News

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