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Greece aircraft crash: Footage shows cargo plane on fire before hitting ground

The Trade Book 31 Jul 17
The crashed plane in northern GreeceImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Drones are being used to survey the wreckage of the plane

People living near the site of a crashed cargo plane in northern Greece have been told to stay indoors amid fears over toxic material.

The Antonov-12, operated by a Ukraine-based company, was flying from Serbia to Jordan when it went down on Saturday close to the city of Kavala.

It was not immediately known whether there were any survivors.

Greece's ERT state broadcaster reported that the aircraft had been carrying a 12-tonne cargo.

It has been described as potentially dangerous. On Sunday morning, emergency services were using a drone to survey the site of the wreckage out of caution. State-run TV reported the army, explosives experts and Greek Atomic Energy Commission staff would not approach until it was deemed safe.

"The (air) measurements at the moment have not shown anything but nonetheless instability in the field was observed," Lieutenant General Marios Apostolidis, of the Northern Greece Fire Brigade, told reporters.

"In other words, intense smoke and heat, as well as a white substance that we do not recognise, so a special armed forces team has to inform us what it is and whether we can enter the field."

The pilot had reportedly requested an emergency landing at Kavala airport due to an engine problem but was unable to reach the runway.

The plane was noticed at about 22:45 local time (19:45 GMT) by local residents. Footage appears to show it was already on fire as it descended.

Aimilia Tsaptanova - who saw the plane come down - said she was amazed it hadn't crashed into their homes.

"It was full of smoke, it had a noise I can't describe and it went over the mountain," she said. "It passed the mountain and turned and crashed into the fields.

Image caption,
The plane was already on fire before it crashed, witnesses said

"There were flames, we were scared. A lot of cars came, but they couldn't approach because there were continuous explosions."

Some reports say eight people may have been on board the aircraft.

Local officials said seven fire engines had been deployed but they could not initially approach the crash site because of continuing explosions.

Greece's special disaster response unit was also investigating the scene, Reuters reported.

So far there has been no public comment from Ukraine, Serbia or Jordan.