Eight people were killed when a Ukrainian cargo plane carrying weapons crashed near the northeastern Greek city of Kavala. The apparent failure of an engine precipitated the ship, an Antonov An-12 from the Ukrainian company Meridian LTD, to the ground, the Serbian authorities reported this Sunday (07.17.2022), from where the machine had taken off.
After catching fire, a cloud of toxic smoke rose, prompting Greek officials to recommend the use of face masks, keeping windows closed and not turning on air conditioners in towns near the area of the tragedy. Initially Filippos Anastasiadis, mayor of Pangeo, the town closest to the area of the plane crash, said the plane was carrying dangerous material, possibly ammunition.
He also ruled out initial rumors that the machine had chemical or nuclear material on board. Because a series of explosions followed the fall of the plane, the Greek military surrounded the area and the first approaches to the plane were made with a drone, to avoid further accidents. All the victims were crew members of the ship.
The Antonov took off in Nis, Serbia, and was flying to Bangladesh, with a stopover in Amman (Jordan). When flying over Greece, the pilot reported problems and requested authorization to make an emergency landing at Kavala airport, but could not arrive and crashed 40 kilometers before reaching the runway. The pilot apparently avoided landing on houses.
“As for the identity of the crew, we believe they are Ukrainians, but we have no information about it. They are not Serbs,” Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic explained at a press conference, detailing that the cargo belonged to the Serbian firm Valir, which had concluded a transaction with the Bangladesh Ministry of Defense “respecting international rules”.
The ship was carrying around 11 tons of weapons, including projectiles. “Some media outlets said that the plane was supposedly carrying weapons to Ukraine, which is completely false,” Stefanovic said. At least two firefighters who participated in the work to control the flames reported respiratory problems and had to be taken to a medical center.