Cargo plane carrying toxic material crashes in Greece, killing all crew

·2-min read
AP - Giannis Papanikos

An Antonov An-12, operated by a Ukraine-based company, crashed in northern Greece on Saturday on its way from Serbia to Jordan. All the eight-member crew died, Serbian authorities said on Sunday.

The cargo aircraft went down late Saturday in Paleochori village close to the city of Kavala in northern Greece.

All of the eight crew members died in the crash, Serbia's defence minister Nebojsa Stefanovic confirmed on Sunday.

The Ukrainian-operated Antonov An-12 was carrying mines and around 11 tonnes of weapons to Bangladesh when it crashed on Saturday night, Stefanovic said.

Video footage from a local channel showed signs of impact on a field and the aircraft in pieces scattered at a long distance.

Local residents reported seeing a fireball and hearing explosions for two hours after the crash.

Greece's ERT state broadcaster said the 12-tonne cargo was potentially dangerous.

On Sunday morning, emergency services began using a drone to survey the site of the wreckage.

ERT reported that the army, explosives experts and Greek Atomic Energy Commission staff will approach the area after it is deemed safe as fears over the toxicity of the unknown cargo forced them to stay away.

Thirteen men from the fire brigade's special teams as well as 26 firemen are near the crash site.

Breathing difficulties

Filippos Anastasiadis, mayor of the nearby town of Paggaio, told Open TV the aircraft had crashed "around two kilometres away from an inhabited area".

People living within that two-kilometre radius were asked to stay inside their homes and wear masks on Saturday night.

Two firemen were taken to the hospital early Sunday with breathing issues because of the toxic fumes.

Local officials said seven fire engines had been deployed to the crash site but that they could not approach because of the continuing explosions.

The plane is a Soviet-era four-engine turboprop cargo carrier. Greek media said it was flying from Nis airport in Serbia to the Jordanian capital Amman.

It had requested clearance to make an emergency landing at nearby Kavala airport, but did not make it to the runway.

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