Kabbalah: The Serbian defense minister said on Sunday that all eight crew members of a cargo plane that crashed near the Greek city of Kabbalah were killed in an accident.

Minister Neboisha Stefanovich said he was carrying about 11 tonnes of weapons, especially land mines, to Bangladesh when Ukraine-run Antonov An-12 crashed on Saturday night.

“Sadly, according to the information we received, eight members of the crew died in the crash,” Stephanovich said at a press conference.

A video shared by witnesses on social media showed that the plane was swallowed by a giant fireball when it hit the ground.

Dennis Bogdanovich, general director of Meridian, a Ukrainian cargo airline that operates planes, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that all crew members are Ukrainian. He gave no information about the cargo.

The plane took off from Nis Airport in Serbia around 8:40 pm (1840 GMT) on Saturday, carrying “about 11 tons of munitions”, or land mines, from the Serbian private company Valil to the Bangladesh Ministry of Defense. Stephanovich said. ..

I was asking for permission to make an emergency landing at an airport in Kabbalah, northern Greece, but I managed to arrive.

Witnesses said they heard the explosion on Saturday when they saw the aircraft burning.

Video footage from local channels showed signs of shock in the field, and the aircraft was widely scattered.

– Poisonous gas –

Greek rescue teams used drones to monitor the wreckage on Sunday. Concerns about the toxicity of the cargo forced them to stay away.

Military biological and chemical weapons experts were expected to comb the crash site during the day, the Ministry of Civil Protection said.

Villagers were barred from entering fields near the crash until authorities were able to remove the wreckage and unexploded ordnance.

People living within a 2km (1.2 miles) radius of the crash site were asked to stay indoors and wear face masks on Saturday night.

Two firefighters were taken to the hospital early on Sunday with difficulty breathing due to poisonous gas.

A fire department official, Malios Apostolidis, told reporters with “special equipment and measuring instruments” that they had inspected the impact and fuselage.

– fireball –

The Athens News Agency (ANA) said it will begin investigating the cause of the accident.

“We heard (and saw) a deafening sound of a fireball approaching the ground, and then an explosion occurred,” said Sophia, the mother of three in the nearby village of Antifilipi. I told ANA.

Giorgos Archontopoulos, a local man, told state broadcaster ERT that he felt something was wrong as soon as he heard the aircraft overhead.

“At 10:45 pm, I was surprised by the sound of the airplane engine,” he said. “I went out and saw the engine burning.”

“If it crashed a few seconds ago, it would have hit our house,” 80-year-old Michaelis Emanowiridis, who was visibly upset, told ANA.

The Ukrainian Consulate of Thessaloniki, Vadim Savburg, visited the area on Sunday, and the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the victims.

ANA said Savburg confirmed the crew’s identity and the destination of the plane.

The Serbian defense minister said the transportation of weapons had nothing to do with Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, some media speculate that the plane was carrying weapons for Ukraine, but that’s not entirely true,” he said.

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