Eight crew members killed in Ukraine cargo plane crash in Greece

Debris of the Antonov cargo plane is seen in Palaiochori village in northern Greece. Credit: AP

All eight crew members on a Ukrainian cargo plane carrying munitions from Serbia to Bangladesh were killed after it crashed in northern Greece on Saturday, authorities have said.

According to witnesses, the cargo plane had come down in a ball of flames near the city of Kavala before exploding on impact in corn fields.

Local residents reported seeing a fireball and hearing explosions for two hours after the crash, which happened around midnight local time.

A plume of white smoke was still rising from the front end of the plane on Sunday morning.

Serbian Defence Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic told a news conference on Sunday that all eight crew members were killed.

Experts have been investigating the site of the plane crash in northern Greece. Credit: AP

He said the plane was carrying 11.5 tons of Serbian-made mortar ammunition to Bangladesh, which was the buyer.

It had taken off from the Serbian city of Nis and had been due to make a stopover in Amman, Jordan.

The plane was operated by Ukrainian cargo carrier Meridian, and local officials have been told that the crew were all Ukrainian.

The An-12, a Soviet-built aircraft operated by a Ukrainian cargo, crashed late on Saturday. Credit: AP

“These were illuminating mortar mines and training (mines). ... This flight had all necessary permissions in accordance with international regulations,” Mr Stefanovic said.

Minutes before the crash, the pilot of the plane had told air traffic controllers that there was a problem with one of his engines and that he had to make an emergency landing.

Firefighters who rushed to the scene in the night were prevented from reaching the crash site by smoke and an intense smell which they feared might be toxic.

Fire service forensics experts have retrieved one body and have found another, a spokesman told reporters.

A drone that flew over the site earlier on Sunday identified four more bodies, but the forensics experts have not found them yet. Two more bodies remain undiscovered.

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