A cargo plane that crashed in Northern Greece on the night of July 16th was confirmed to have been carrying over eleven tons of military equipment.
Pyrotechnicians of the Greek military had been operating at the site of Saturday’s Antonov-12 plane crash near Kavala in Northern Greece since early morning Sunday while the local mayor of Paggaio, Filippos Anastasiades, ordered a curfew for residents of Antiphilippoi and Paleochori villages as search and investigation continued.
In a new statement on Sunday afternoon, Anastasiades reassured citizens that Greek army investigators had not identified any radioactive or other biological material at the site of the crash which could pose a danger to public health.
That paves the way for the collection of the bodies of the eight crew members who perished in the tragedy.
Meridian, the Ukrainian private cargo airline that operated the flight, had stated earlier that the eight people on board were all believed to have been killed in the accident.
According to Anastasiades, six bodies have been located while the other two are still missing. They will be sent to a Komotini coroner, and the Ukrainian diplomatic authorities to Greece will receive them after the post mortem examination is completed.
The Greek Foreign Ministry expressed its condolences to the families of the victims of the crash in a post on Twitter.
A local priest from Paleochori told reporters that he had read a memorial prayer for them after Sunday mass.
We express our sincere condolences to the families of the 8 Ukrainian crew members who tragically lost their lives in the plane crash pic.twitter.com/oJRu35qKZL
— Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών (@GreeceMFA) July 17, 2022
Site of crash searched by authorities
The plane had taken off from Serbia with eight people on board and was transporting twelve tons of military material, local officials told reporters in the first hours following the crash, which was confirmed today by the Serbian Defense Minister.
The Greek Army’s biodefense unit was called to assess the toxicity risk from the hazardous material believed to have been scattered around the perimeter of the crash following the collision.
Special forces were reported to have arrived at the location in the early afternoon on Sunday. No radioactive or otherwise dangerous material was found around the debris.
Nearby villages had no power or water supply on Sunday, as power poles were damaged.
Soil, air, and water pollution measurements were underway.
The investigation on the causes of the tragic accident will be overseen by the competent prosecutors and army officials.
Serbia confirms crashed plane cargo
Serbia‘s Defense Minister, Nebojsa Stefanovic, confirmed the route and the nature of the cargo of the lost plane in a press conference on Sunday midday local time.
АN-12 aircraft, owned by an Ukrainian company, that crashed in Greece yesterday, took off from the Nis airport and was transporting Serbian military industry shipment towards its end buyer – Ministry of Defense of Bangladesh.
— Небојша Стефановић (@NesaStefanovic) July 17, 2022
Minister Stefanovic said the plane carried over eleven tons of military material, or “conventional weapons” specifically, bought by the Defense Ministry of Bangladesh. These included training mortars and projectiles.
He added that the weapons had been legally acquired from a private Serbian company and that the final destination was Bangladeshi capital Dakha, with stops in Amman and Riyahd for technical reasons. Early reports had reported that Jordan had been the flight’s destination.
Burning inferno on site of plane crash
Witnesses who approached the site of the crash on Saturday night spoke of a burning sensation on their mouth and lips.
Two firefighters and one reporter were taken to hospital with respiratory symptoms.
Continuing explosions could be heard for two hours after the collision.
Local TV network ENA published drone videos depicting Saturday’s inferno and an aerial view of the site of the crash on Sunday morning.