Ukrainian airline cargo plane crashes in Greece

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PALAIOCHORI, Greece — An Antonov cargo plane operated by a Ukrainian airline crashed near the city of Kavala in northern Greece on Saturday, authorities said. Local residents reported seeing a fireball and hearing explosions for two hours after the crash.

Greek civil aviation authorities said the flight flies from Serbia to Jordan. The An-12, a Soviet-built turboprop aircraft, was operated by the Meridian cargo company.

Greek media reported that there were eight people on the plane and that it was carrying 12 tons of “dangerous materials”, mostly explosives. However, local officials said they had no specific information about the cargo and provided varying numbers of people on board.

Because of a strong odor emanating from the crash site, a coordinating committee made up of city officials, police and firefighters, as a precaution, asked residents of the two towns closest to the crash site to keep their windows closed throughout the night and Not leaving their windows houses and wearing masks. Authorities say they don’t know if there were any dangerous chemicals on the plane, including those found in batteries.

The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority said the pilot managed to alert authorities to a problem in one of the plane’s engines and was given a choice of landing at either Thessaloniki or Kavala airports and chose Kavala decided that was closer and said he did it to make an emergency landing.

Communications with the aircraft ceased almost immediately thereafter. The plane crashed about 40 kilometers west of the airport.

“We heard explosions until a few minutes ago,” Filippos Anastassiadis, mayor of Paggaio Municipality, told the Associated Press a little over an hour after the accident. “I’m about 300 meters from the crash site.”

One of Anastassiadis’ deputies told state broadcaster ERT that explosions could be heard for two hours after the crash.

Locals reported seeing a fireball and plume of smoke before the crash.

ERT reported that army and explosives experts were on their way to the site, which is on farmland near two villages that are part of Paggaio Municipality. However, they are not expected to start work before dawn. Experts from the Hellenic Atomic Energy Commission will join them.

The fire brigade cordoned off the area within a radius of about 400 meters. The cordoned off area will be expanded at dawn, the fire brigade said.

Nellas reported from Athens, Greece.

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