An Antonov An-12 cargo plane owned by Ukrainian company Meridian crashed near Kavala, Greece, late on July 16. All eight Ukrainian crew members on board were killed in the crash.
The head of Meridian, Denys Bohdanovych, confirmed the crash to the Deutsche Welle. The plane was reportedly flying from Serbia to Jordan.
The names of the crew members have not been reported. Bohdanovych said that all of them were Ukrainian citizens.
Bohdanovych also did not provide any information about the plane’s cargo, saying that the “details are being clarified,” Deutsche Welle reported. However, the Greek broadcaster ERT News reported, citing its sources in the fire department, that the crashed plane was carrying some 12 tons of “hazardous cargo,” the type of which “has not yet been specified, although the first indications are of ammunition.”
Later on July 17, Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said that the plane was carrying some “Serbian-made defense products.”
The plane took off at about 8:40 p.m. from the Serbian city Nis, carrying nearly 11.5 tons of “products of Serbian defense industry” to the customer — the Defense Ministry of Bangladesh, Stefanovic said at a press briefing, as quoted by European Pravda.
The cause of the crash is being determined. According to The Guardian, Greece’s Civil Aviation authority said that the pilot “managed to alert authorities about a problem in one of the plane’s engines.” The pilot was given the choice to land in either the Thessaloniki or Kavala airports. He reportedly tried to make an emergency landing at the Kavala Airport, which was closer. However, the connection with the plane “ceased almost immediately afterward.”
According to the ERT, the plane’s pilot reported that the aircraft had suffered engine failure, and requested permission for an emergency landing “but was unable to reach an airport as one engine caught fire.” The plane crashed nearly 40 kilometers west of the airport.
ERT also reported a strong “smell of burnt fuel” and a “dense cloud of smoke” at the site of the crash. According to the media, the fire department requested the “immediate withdrawal of all the fire department forces, as well as all those who are near the area where the aircraft crashed as the toxicity of the cargo carried by aircraft is not known.”