Cargo Plane Crashes in Greece; Explosions Keep Firefighters Away

A cargo aircraft Antonov An-12 crashed late Saturday near Paleochori Kavalas in northern Greece, the fire brigade said.

Eyewitnesses said the aircraft was on fire and that they had heard explosions, Athens News Agency reported.

A local man, Giorgos Archontopoulos, told state broadcaster ERT television he had thought something was wrong as soon as he heard the aircraft’s engine.

“At 22:45 I was surprised by the sound of the engine of the aircraft,” he said. “I went outside and saw the engine on fire.”

Local officials said seven fire engines had been deployed to the crash site but that they could not approach because of the ongoing explosions.

According to media reports, the cargo aircraft was traveling from Serbia to Jordan and had requested clearance to make an emergency landing at nearby Kavala airport but did not manage to reach it.

State-run broadcaster ERT television reported the aircraft was operated by Ukrainian cargo operator Meridan and, according to villagers, it was in flames before it crashed.

There is no official information about the number of people on board the aircraft, which was still burning, according to live footage broadcast on state television.

But ERT said the plane was carrying eight people and that its cargo “was dangerous.” Police were asking journalists at the scene to wear masks, the report added.

“You need to go away for your safety. There is information that the aircraft was carrying ammunition,” one firefighter told reporters at the scene.

“The aircraft crashed around 2 kilometers away from an inhabited area,” Filippos Anastasiadis, mayor of the nearby town of Paggaio, told Open TV.  

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