Ukrainian Cargo Plane Carrying Mortar Explodes While Air Born  Before Crashing In Greece


Debris of an Antonov cargo plane is seen in Palaiochori village in northern Greece

LAGOS JULY 18TH (NEWSRANGERS)-A cargo plane carrying 11 tonnes of weapons became engulfed in a fireball before crashing into Greece, killing the eight Ukrainian crew on board.

The Ukrainian plane carrying a cargo of mortar shells from Serbia to Bangladesh has no connection to the war in Ukraine, officials claimed on Sunday.

All eight crew on board the Antonov An-12 were killed when it came down in a ball of flame near the Greek city of Kavala late on Saturday night.  

The pilot had reported engine trouble and requested an emergency landing just before the crash. The Ukrainian foreign ministry said the “preliminary cause” of the crash was an engine fire.

Greek army biological and chemical weapons experts trawled the wreckage on Sunday after two firefighters who responded to the accident suffered breathing difficulties, but did not report finding toxic substances.

Rescuers were unable to initially search the site because of a large number of unexploded munitions, and had to use a drone to search for bodies. They succeeded in recovering one corpse by Sunday afternoon.

Nebojsa Stefanovic, the Serbian defence minister, said the aircraft was carrying “around 11 tons of military industry goods”, including mortar shells and training rounds, from the privately owned Serbian arms company Valir to the Bangladeshi defence ministry.

“Sadly, according to the information we have received, the eight members of the crew died in the crash,” Mr Stefanovic said. He said reports that the weapons were destined for the war in Ukraine were “completely untrue.”

The Bangladesh military said the aircraft had been carrying “training mortar shells procured from Serbia for the Bangladesh Army” and border guard service.

Denys Bogdanovych, general director of Meridian, the Ukrainian cargo airline operating the plane, said the crew were all Ukrainian.

The flight had taken off from Nis in southern Serbia at 8:40 pm local time but shortly afterwards requested an emergency landing at Kaval airport.

Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft comedown in flames before exploding in a cornfield around midnight.

“I wonder how it didn’t fall on our houses,” one witness, Aimilia Tsaptanova, told reporters. “It was full of smoke, it had a noise I can’t describe and went over the mountain. It passed the mountain and turned and crashed into the fields.”

Villagers were forbidden to go into the fields near the crash until the authorities can remove the wreckage and unexploded ammunition.

The Ukrainian consul in Thessaloniki, Vadim Sabluk, visited the area on Sunday and the Greek foreign ministry expressed its “sincere condolences” to the victims’ families.

Belgrade-based Valir describes itself as a “Serbian company fully registered to perform foreign trade activities of armament military equipment and other defence solutions.”

Serbia has a large state-owned defence industry that exports around the world.

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