An Antonov cargo plane operated by a Ukrainian airline crashed on Saturday near the city of Kavala in northern Greece, officials said. Local residents reported seeing fireballs and hearing explosions for two hours after the accident.
Greek civil aviation officials said the flight was going from Serbia to Jordan. A Soviet-built turboprop aircraft, the An-12, was operated by the cargo carrier Meridian.
Greek media reported that the plane was carrying eight people and contained 12 tons of “dangerous material”, mostly explosives. But local officials said they had no specific information about the cargo and provided it with varying numbers of people on board.
As a precautionary measure due to strong foul smell emanating from the accident site, a coordination committee comprising officials of the municipal corporation, police and fire department asked residents of the two areas closest to the accident site to keep their windows closed throughout the night so that they do not leave their homes. . homes and wearing masks. Officials say they do not know whether the plane had dangerous chemicals contained in batteries.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Greece said that the pilot managed to alert authorities to a problem in one of the aircraft’s engines and was given the option of landing at Thessaloniki or Kavala airport, and opted for Kavala, which is close to was, saying that he had to make an emergency landing.
Communications with the aircraft ceased almost immediately after. The plane crashed about 40 kilometers (25 mi) west of the airport.
“We were hearing explosions until a few minutes ago,” Pagaio Municipality Mayor Filippos Anastasiadis told the Associated Press an hour after the accident. “I’m about 300 meters from the crash site.”
A representative for Anastasiadis told state broadcaster ERT that explosions were heard for two hours after the crash.
Locals saw a fireball and a plume of smoke before the accident.
ERT reported that the army and explosives experts were on their way to the site, which is located on farmland close to two villages that are part of the municipality of Paggio. But they are not expected to start work before dawn. He will be joined by experts from the Atomic Energy Commission of Greece.
The fire service has cordoned off the area within a radius of about 400 meters. Fire service officials said the cordoned off area would be expanded in the morning.