“Fire, destroyed plane, darkness and bodies all around,” Ukraine’s president Volodymir Zalensky retold the recollection of the sole survivor of the Antonov AN-26 aircraft crash on September 25, 2020.
The Antonov AN-26 aircraft, belonging to Ukrainian armed forces crashed and subsequently caught on fire at 20:50 local time on September 25, 2020. The incident happened in the Kharkov region of Ukraine, near the city of Chuguev, about 2 kilometres to the military airport.
The aircraft was transporting 27 military pilots and cadets, of whom 25 were killed on the spot during the crash. One person died from life-threatening burns in hospital the following day, leaving one person ‒ a 20-year-old cadet ‒ the sole survivor of the accident.
Ukraine’s president visited the survivor in hospital on September 26, 2020. Following the meeting, Zalensky took to social media to recount the heroic actions of the cadet while attempting to save a coursemate:
“Fire, destroyed plane, darkness and body all around,” Zalensky wrote. “One of the guys was burning and Slava [the 20-year-old survivor, ed. note] rushed to extinguish him. He managed to give another chance to another cadet, who sadly passed away from burns this morning.”
September 26, 2020, was announced the national day of mourning in Ukraine.
The country’s authorities have opened an investigation into the accident causes, the State Service of Ukraine for Emergencies confirmed via statement on September 27, 2020.