Ukrainian cargo plane that crashed in Greece had 11 tons of mortar and land mines on board – NBCNEWS

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Photos taken this morning show the charred debris still burning hours after the crash

A Ukrainian cargo plane that crashed in northern Greece last night was carrying nearly a dozen tons of mortar shells and landmines to Bangladesh’s military.

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The light aircraft Antonov An-12 had eight Ukrainian crew members, all of whom were killed.

An official from freight company Meridian told Reuters: “Of course they didn’t survive this.”

Eyewitnesses filmed the fireball crash in the early hours today, with explosions lasting for two hours and the charred wreck burning until morning.

Drone footage of the scene showed debris from the heaping aircraft lying in the fields.

Serbia’s defense minister said the plane was carrying 11.5 tons of products made by the defense industry and the purchaser was Bangladesh’s defense ministry.

The Greek authorities were unable to provide further information about the cargo of the aircraft.

Photos taken this morning show the charred debris still burning hours after the crash

Footage from today shows chunks of metal scattered across the field, with the condition of the crew members still unknown.  Ukrainian media reportedly suggested that all eight were murdered

Footage from today shows chunks of metal scattered across the field, with the condition of the crew members still unknown. Ukrainian media reportedly suggested that all eight were murdered

Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic added that the cargo of the plane belonged to the Serbian company Valir, a trading company registered to conduct foreign trade activities.

Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic added that the cargo of the plane belonged to the Serbian company Valir, a trading company registered to conduct foreign trade activities.

A special army unit arrived at the site to search for nuclear, biological and chemical materials

A special army unit arrived at the site to search for nuclear, biological and chemical materials

A special army unit arrived at the site at 1:00 PM local time (10:00 GMT) to search for nuclear, biological and chemical materials.

A lead firefighter told reporters his crew “felt their lips burning” at the site, as white dust floated in the air.

‘We don’t know what’s happening to us,’ says fire coordinator Marios Apostolidis.

Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic added that the cargo of the plane belonged to the Serbian company Valir, a trading company registered to conduct foreign trade activities for armaments, military equipment and other defense products.

State television ERT said the plane’s signal was lost shortly after the pilot requested an emergency landing from Greek aviation authorities due to an engine problem.

Amateur video footage showed the plane quickly descending in flames before hitting the ground in what appeared to be an explosion.

State television ERT said the plane's signal was lost shortly after the pilot requested an emergency landing from Greek aviation authorities

State television ERT said the plane’s signal was lost shortly after the pilot requested an emergency landing from Greek aviation authorities

Drone footage shows plane's flaming body after crash in Kavala, northern Greece

Drone footage shows plane’s flaming body after crash in Kavala, northern Greece

A Ukrainian cargo plane with eight people on board was already on fire before it crashed near the town of Kavala in northern Greece last night, footage shows.  Pictured: Flames and smoke can be seen in the area where an Antonov cargo plane from Ukraine crashed in the Paleiochori area, west of Kavala

A Ukrainian cargo plane with eight people on board was already on fire before it crashed near the town of Kavala in northern Greece last night, footage shows. Pictured: Flames and smoke can be seen in the area where an Antonov cargo plane from Ukraine crashed in the Paleiochori area, west of Kavala

The Antonov An-12, owned by Meridian, exploded in a blaze of flame as it flew from Serbia to Jordan carrying

The Antonov An-12, owned by Meridian, exploded in a blaze of flame as it flew from Serbia to Jordan carrying “dangerous materials” believed to be explosives. Pictured: Ambulances are seen in the area where an Antonov cargo plane from Ukraine crashed last night in the Paleiochori area, west of Kavala, northern Greece

A leading source at Jordan’s Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission (CARC) denied previous reports that the plane was en route to Jordan.

The source said his flight route included a stopover at Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport at 9:30 p.m. to refuel, the state news agency Petra reported Sunday.

The larger area in Greece where the plane crashed has been cordoned off since Saturday evening.

Local residents have been advised to keep windows and doors closed and to avoid the area surrounding the incident.

The fire brigade has cordoned off the area within a radius of approximately 400 meters.

The mayor of the municipality of Paggaio, to which the two villages belong to the accident, has closed nearby roads.

Eyewitnesses said the Antonov An-12 was on fire and they heard explosions, Athens News Agency reported.

A local man from the mountain area, Giorgos Archontopoulos, told state broadcaster ERT television that he sensed something was wrong as soon as he heard the plane’s engine.

“At 10:45 p.m. I was surprised by the sound of the plane’s engine,” he said. “I went out and saw the engine on fire.”

Local residents, who reported seeing a fireball and a plume of smoke, and Greek media believe the plane had explosives on board.

Ambulances were spotted this morning in the area where an Antonov cargo plane from Ukraine has crashed in the Paleiochori area, west of Kavala

Ambulances were spotted this morning in the area where an Antonov cargo plane from Ukraine has crashed in the Paleiochori area, west of Kavala

Pictured: Firefighters seen near plane crash site

Pictured: Firefighters seen near plane crash site

State broadcaster ERT reported that military explosives experts were on their way to the site, located on farmland near two villages that are part of the Paggaio municipality.

It also said villagers say it was already in flames before it crashed and ERT has been told his cargo ‘was dangerous’.

Police asked journalists on the scene to wear masks, the report said.

“You have to leave for your safety. There is information that the plane was carrying ammunition,” a firefighter told reporters at the scene.

Filippos Anastasiadis, mayor of the nearby town of Paggaio, told Open TV: “The plane crashed about two kilometers (one mile) from an inhabited area.”

He also told AP: “Until a few minutes ago, we heard explosions. I’m about 300 meters from the crash site.’

A total of 15 firefighters and seven motorcycles were deployed to extinguish the fire that broke out after the crash with more rescuers en route.

Firefighting vehicles were seen near the site of a plane crash, a few miles from the town of Kavala, in northern Greece on Saturday

Firefighting vehicles were seen near the site of a plane crash, a few miles from the town of Kavala, in northern Greece on Saturday

Flames have been seen at the site of a plane crash a few miles from the town of Kavala, in northern Greece yesterday

Flames have been seen at the site of a plane crash a few miles from the town of Kavala, in northern Greece yesterday

A night shot from yesterday of the site of a plane crash, a few miles away from the city of Kavala

A night shot from yesterday of the site of a plane crash, a few miles away from the city of Kavala

It was not clear what the cargo of the aircraft was, but the special emergency response unit also investigated the spot.

“We are treating the cargo as hazardous material,” a fire officer said.

Firefighters have cordoned off the area and are struggling to get to the scene.

The pilot managed to alert authorities to a problem in one of the aircraft’s engines and was given the choice of landing at Thessaloniki or Kavala airports.

He chose Kavala, which was closer, but the plane crashed about 40 miles west of the airport, the Greek Civil Aviation Authority said.

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