Videos shared by eyewitnesses on social media showed the plane engulfed by a giant fireball
Cargo plane crash in Greece. All eight crew members of a cargo plane that crashed near the Greek city of Kavala died in the accident, Serbia’s defence minister said on Sunday.
The Ukrainian-operated Antonov An-12 was carrying around 11 tonnes of weapons, including mines, to Bangladesh when it crashed on Saturday night, minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said.
Videos shared by eyewitnesses on social media showed the plane engulfed by a giant fireball as it hit the ground.
“Sadly, according to the information we have received, the eight members of the crew died in the crash,” Stefanovic told a news conference.
Denys Bohdanovytch, general director of Meridian, the Ukrainian cargo airline operating the plane, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle the crew were all Ukrainian. He gave no information about the cargo.
The plane had taken off from Nis airport in Serbia at around 8:40 pm (1840 GMT) on Saturday, carrying weapons owned by private Serbian company Valir, Stefanovic said.
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Greek media said it had requested clearance to make an emergency landing at Kavala airport but had not managed to reach it.
Greek rescue services were using a drone on Sunday to monitor the wreckage of the aircraft as fears about the toxicity of the cargo were forcing them to keep at a distance.
Villagers were forbidden to go into the fields near the crash until the authorities could remove the wreckage and unexploded ammunition.
The Ukrainian consul in Thessaloniki, Vadim Sabluk, visited the area on Sunday.
Athens News Agency said he had given the authorities the identities of the eight crew and confirmed the plane had been flying to Bangladesh.
Serbia’s defence minister said the weapons shipment had been agreed with the Bangladeshi defence ministry “in accordance with international rules”.
“Unfortunately some media have speculated that that the plane was carrying weapons destined for Ukraine but that is completely untrue,” he said.