The aircraft came down overnight between the villages Antifilippi and Palaiochori, close to Eleftheroupoli in the Kavala region, the Greek Fire Service said in a tweet Saturday.
The plane — Antonov 12 — which is operated by Ukrainian cargo airline Meridian, crashed shortly before 11 p.m. local time (4 p.m ET) Saturday, Greek public broadcaster ERT reported.
It was traveling from Serbia to Bangladesh via Jordan when it crashed, Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said on Facebook Sunday. The cause of the accident is believed to be engine failure.
All eight crew members aboard the plane were Ukrainian citizens, Nikolenko added. He said an operational headquarters has been set up by the Ukrainian consulate in Thessaloniki, where Ukrainian consular officers are working at the crash site with local rescue and law enforcement teams.
The Greek Fire Service said 15 firefighters and seven appliances were at the site of the crash.
The plane was transporting Serbian military equipment to Bangladesh when it crashed, according to the Serbian Minister of Defense Nebojša Stefanović.
In a tweet posted on Sunday, the minister said the plane, Antonov 12, “was transporting Serbian military industry shipment towards its end buyer — Ministry of Defense of Bangladesh.”
According to ERT, the aircraft was carrying “dangerous cargo” when it crashed. The type of cargo has not been specified, but initial reports indicated it could have been ammunition.
Smoke and intense heat, as well as a white substance found near the crash site, raised concerns over possible toxicity, Major General of the Fire Brigade Marios Apostolidis, head of the operational team, said.
A drone will be used to survey the area where the aircraft crashed to assess its safety, Apostolidis added.
Experts are also working to determine what the white substance is and what the scene’s toxicity is before proceeding with recovery operations.
Authorities have not yet recovered the plane’s flight recorder.
Talia Kayali reported from Atlanta. Chris Liakos reported from London. Teele Rebane reported from Estonia.
July 17, 2022 at 04:36PM