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A Soviet–built propeller cargo airplane operated by a small Ukrainian airline crashed in northern Greece late Saturday with an 11.5–ton load of Serbian munitions destined for Bangladesh, according to officials and media accounts. All eight crew members for Meridian cargo airline were killed.
The Antonov AN–12, a four–engine turboprop, was heading from Niš, Serbia, to Amman, Jordan, for a refueling stop, when it crashed about 40 kilometers west of the Kavala airport after the pilot radioed about problems with one of the engines, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.
Greek state TV ERT said the aircraft’s signal was lost soon after the pilot requested an emergency landing. Amateur video footage uploaded on ertnews.gr showed the aircraft in flames descending fast before hitting the ground in what appeared to be an explosion.
Drone images from the scene showed debris from the Antonov AN–12 aircraft strewn across fields.
They banned people from moving around the area and warned people to stay in their homes because of concerns about chemical fumes and explosions from the destroyed cargo and advised residents to keep doors and windows shut, not even to use their air conditioners
Greek authorities said the special disaster response unit and military staff, including mine clearance units, had been dispatched to the scene. They banned people from moving around the area and warned people to stay in their homes because of concerns about chemical fumes and explosions from the destroyed cargo and advised residents to keep doors and windows shut, not even to use their air conditioners, until there is a safe assessment of possible air contamination from the aircraft’s materials.
A fire brigade official said on Sunday that firefighters “felt their lips burning” and white dust was floating in the air. The substance has been examined and not found to be radioactive or biological material hazardous to public health, the mayor of the wider region, Philippos Anastasiades, told reporters.
The investigations into the causes of the Antonov crash in Paleochori Kavala are in full progress . The Land Mine Clearance Battalion continued on Monday (17/7) the investigations to locate and mark the munitions that have been scattered from the wreckage of the aircraft and then they will be collected and removed or neutralized on site, which will be decided by the ladder. It is recalled that there are no dangerous or toxic substances at the scene of the accident.
The officers of the special interdisciplinary Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Defense company of the Greek Defense Ministry arrived in Antiphilippi, in order to investigate and ascertain the origin of the white substance, which was located around the fatal aircraft
The officers of the special interdisciplinary Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Defense company of the Greek Defense Ministry arrived in Antiphilippi, in order to investigate and ascertain the origin of the white substance, which was located around the fatal aircraft that crashed in the area.
The 14 people who make up the special team will try to answer the question that has been preoccupying the authorities involved since early this morning about the type of white substance that was detected from the first minutes of the investigation.
As explained in statements by the regional governor of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, Christos Metios , the service involved in the search and rescue project has already proceeded to open a first security corridor, through which both the officers of the special interdisciplinary company will move, and subsequently and the teams of the land mine clearance battalion, but also the civil protection search and rescue teams to collect the bodies of the crew and the wreckage of the fatal aircraft.
11.5 tonnes of products, including Serbian–made land mines, mortar shells and other weaponry to Bangladesh. The buyer of the cargo was the defence ministry of Bangladesh
Investigators said — instability was found in the field as there are smokes and intense heat as well as a white substance of unknown origin, however the measuring instruments did not show anything alarming. The next stage is to fly a drone to survey the entire area where the aircraft went down. Once it is established that there is stability in the field and there is no risk to the safety of the men assisting the operation, the whole process will begin.
Experts from the Civil Aviation, Fire Brigade and Army to first check what is the white powder that has been spread in the area, the type of cargo, the possible toxicity after the fall of the aircraft and to look for the “black box”, which will give information about the tragic event.
Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Nebojsa Stefanovic said the plane had been carrying 11.5 tonnes of products, including Serbian–made land mines, mortar shells and other weaponry to Bangladesh. The buyer of the cargo was the defence ministry of Bangladesh, he added.
Confirming that account, Denys Bogdanovych, Meridian’s general director, said the crash had no relation to the war currently raging in Ukraine. The Ukrainian foreign ministry confirmed that all the dead were Ukrainian nationals.
The aircraft that crashed was more than 50 years old. An–12s were originally built by the Antonov Design Bureau, located in Kyiv, Ukraine, as a medium–range cargo and paratroop transport aircraft for the Soviet air force. ■