Ukraine Cargo Plane Crashed
As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Ukraine, one of their cargo planes that was carrying military goods crashed, killing eight crew members. According to the Serbian defense minister, the privately operated Antonov plane was flying to Bangladesh from Serbia when it unfortunately crashed in Greece.
The plane took off on Saturday from Nis airport in southern Serbia at approximately 8:40 p.m. It had 11 tons of military industry goods such as mines from a private Serbian company called Valir. It was on its way to the Bangladesi defense ministry, according to Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic.
“Sadly, according to the information we have received, the eight members of the crew died in the crash,” said Stefanovic. The crew members were all Ukrainian citizens according to Ukraine’s foreign ministry. “The preliminary cause of the accident is the failure of one of the engines,” said spokesman Oleg Nikolenko on Facebook.
Witnesses said they could hear explosions and could see the plane on fire. One of the locals, Giorgos Archontopoulos, said he had a feeling something was not right when he heard noise from the plane. “I was surprised by the sound of the engine of the aircrafts,” he said. “I went outside and saw the engine on fire.”
There is video footage on social media showing the aircraft hitting the ground while being engulfed by a giant fireball. Other footage from a local channel showed the aircraft scattered in pieces over a large area where it crashed in Paleochori village near the Greek city of Kavala.
David DesRoches, a professor at the National Defense University, told Al Jazeera that explosives in the wreckage would make it difficult to examine the crash site. “The damage always looks worse because people don’t go and [immediately] put out the fire, they have to sit back and let the fire burn itself out,” he said. “There are also reports that some of the rounds are mortar illumination rounds, which are not normal blast explosives – they tend finely fragmented pieces of metal, which are extremely flammable. So again, that would create some problems for fire fighters and rescuers.”
The area has yet to be inspected due to the toxicity of the cargo. Explosive experts, the army, and Greek Atomic Energy Commission staff plan to visit the area when it is safe. “Men from the fire service with special equipment and measuring instruments approached the point of impact of the aircraft and had a close look at the fuselage and other parts scattered in the fields,” according to fire brigade official Marios Apostolidis.
The search teams will further inspect when the area is deemed safe.
After the crash, people living in the surrounding area were asked by officials to take precautions because of the possible toxic fumes. There was a strong smell coming from the crash site and two firefighters started experiencing breathing issues from the fumes and were rushed to the hospital on Sunday. The civilians were asked to keep their houses closed tight, wear masks and stay indoors.