Questions remain about the cargo of a Ukrainian plane that crashed in northern Greece on Saturday night, after a series of explosions were heard after impact and authorities ordered residents in the area to keep their windows closed and wear masks.
Greek media reported there were eight people on-board the Antonov An-12 aircraft and that it was carrying 12 tonnes of “dangerous materials”, mostly explosives. But local officials said they had no specific information on the cargo and provided slightly varying numbers of people on board.
Explosives experts and experts from Greece’s Atomic Energy Commission were preparing to search the crash site on Sunday to determine what kind of cargo it carried, officials said.
Some firefighters who rushed to the scene overnight were prevented from reaching the crash site by smoke and an intense smell which they feared might be toxic. Residents reported seeing a fireball and hearing explosions for two hours after the crash.
Residents within a two-kilometre radius were told to keep their windows shut all night, to not leave their homes and to wear masks.
Two firemen were taken to the hospital early on Sunday with breathing issues caused by the toxic fumes.
Drone footage showed that fragments were all that was left of the plane, which crashed in fields between two villages and dragged a small distance on the ground. A plume of white smoke was still rising from the front end of the plane on Sunday.
The crew requested clearance for an emergency landing at nearby Kavala airport but did not manage to reach it. Residents in the area told state media that the plane’s engine was on fire before it crashed.
An official at Jordan's civil aviation authority denied media reports that the kingdom was the aircraft's final destination.
The plane was scheduled to make a refuelling stop at the Queen Alia International Airport at about 9.30pm before heading to Bangladesh, state news agency Petra quoted the official as saying.
With reporting from agencies.