KIEV, Ukraine - Twenty-six people, mostly air force cadets have been killed in a military transport plane crash in northeastern Ukraine.
The plane went down near a highway two kilometres from a miltary airport in Chuhuiv during a training course on Friday night.
The Antonov An-26 aircraft, which was 43 years old, was carrying 27 people comprising seven crew, and 20 young cadets, from Kharkiv University of Air Force.
It is understood the plane experienced engine problems just prior to landing.
Two of those on board survived the crash, however one of them died later in hospital.
A national day of mourning was declared for Saturday.
"Yesterday, as a result of a terrible tragedy... Ukraine lost 26 of its worthy sons," Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a statement posted on Facebook Saturday. "I insist that the causes of this plane crash be promptly clarified and that the investigation be objective and impartial."
"A state commission is set up to find out all the circumstances and causes of this catastrophe," he added, while confirming the plane's black containing the flight data had been found.
The president was due to visit the crash site on Sunday.
"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 published on Saturday.
There are more than 5,000 students studying at the Kharkiv University.