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All eight crew members killed in cargo plane crash in Greece

#crew #members #killed #cargo #plane #crash #Greece

All eight crew members of a cargo plane that crashed near the Greek city of Kavala died in the accident, Serbia’s defense minister said on Sunday.

The Ukraine-operated Antonov An-12 was transporting around 11 tons 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 being engulfed in a giant fireball as it hit the ground.

“Unfortunately, according to the information available to us, the eight crew members died in the crash,” Stefanovic said at a press conference.

Denys Bohdanovytch, general manager of Meridian, the Ukrainian cargo airline that operates the plane, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle the crew was all Ukrainians. He did not provide any information about the charge.

The plane took off from Nis Airport in Serbia around 20:40 (1840 GMT) on Saturday and was carrying weapons belonging to private Serbian company Valir, Stefanovic said.

Greek media said they applied for permission to make an emergency landing at Kavala Airport but failed to reach him.

Greek emergency services deployed a drone to monitor the plane’s wreckage on Sunday as they kept their distance for fear of the cargo’s toxicity.

Villagers were forbidden from entering the fields near the crash until authorities could clear the debris and unexploded munitions.

Ukrainian Consul in Thessaloniki Vadim Sabluk visited the area on Sunday.

The Athens News Agency said he had provided authorities with the identities of the eight crew members and confirmed that the plane had flown to Bangladesh.

Serbia’s defense minister said the arms delivery had been agreed with Bangladesh’s defense ministry “in accordance with international rules”.

“Unfortunately, some media have speculated that the plane was carrying weapons destined for Ukraine, but this is completely wrong,” he said.

– Toxic fumes –

State television said the army, explosives experts and staff from the Hellenic Atomic Energy Commission would approach the crash site once it was deemed safe.

“Firefighters with special equipment and measuring instruments approached the point of impact of the plane and closely examined the fuselage and other parts scattered in the fields,” fire official Marios Apostolidis told reporters.

Search teams would go in when it was safe, he added.

A special fire department team of 13, 26 firefighters and seven fire engines were dispatched to the area but have not yet been able to approach the crash site, local officials said.

Video footage from a local station showed signs of impact in a field and the plane in pieces scattered over a wide area.

Eyewitnesses said on Saturday they saw the plane on fire and heard explosions.

People living within a two-kilometer radius of the crash site were asked to stay indoors and wear face masks on Saturday night.

Two firefighters were taken to hospital early Sunday morning with breathing difficulties from toxic fumes.

A local, Giorgos Archontopoulos, told state television station ERT that he felt something was wrong when he heard the plane’s engine.

“At 10:45 p.m. I was surprised by the sound of the plane’s engine,” he said. “I went outside and saw the burning engine.”

The Athens News Agency said an investigation into the cause of the accident was being launched.

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