Athens, Jul 17 (EFE).- An investigation is underway Sunday after a Ukrainian cargo plane transporting 11.5 tons of munitions from Serbia to Bangladesh crashed in northern Greece.
The team, led by the head of Greece’s firefighting unit Marios Apostolidis, and comprising firefighters, bomb disposal and chemical experts told local media that the scene of Saturday’s fatal crash, near the city of Kavala, was “unstable.”
Investigators found traces of a white substance of unknown origin and said extremely high temperatures were emanating from the wreckage.
Serbia’s defense minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said the plane was an Antonov AN-12 that was carrying 11.5 tons of munitions. It left Serbia at 8.40pm local time en route to Dhaka in Bangladesh with scheduled stops in Amman, Jordan, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, he added.
The eight Ukrainian crewmembers were killed in the crash.
The plane belonged to a Ukrainian company and had been chartered by a private firm to export the munition. Stefanovic said the flight was legal and had been approved by the Serbian defense ministry.
Eyewitnesses said the plane fell from the sky in a ball of flames and crashed in a field between the villages of Paleochori and Antifilipi. Numerous explosions could be heard after the crash.
The pilot of the aircraft had contacted authorities to report an engine failure and request an emergency landing. The plane’s propeller caught fire before it was able to make it to the airport, local media reported.
Local authorities have told villagers near the crash site to remain indoors due to the risk of toxic material. EFE