When more than 11 tons of military explosives exploded after a Saturday place crash, fear kept first responders away.
A Soviet-era four-engine turboprop cargo plane, piloted by a Ukrainian crew, was taking 11.5 tons of Serbian-made ordinance to Bangladesh when it came down in northern Greece, according to ABC. Officials said illuminating mortar shells were among the cargo.
Firefighters were initially delayed in their response, as they were confronted by intense smoke and an odor they feared might be toxic.
“It was full of smoke, it had a noise I can’t describe and went over the mountain. It passed the mountain and turned and crashed into the fields,” she said.
?Fears over dangerous chemicals, explosive cargo after deadly plane crash in northern Greecehttps://t.co/tSlL9E7zna
— Christine (@ChristineEliaz) July 17, 2022
Stamatis Kourtesis of Antifilippi said he saw the airplane on fire as it crashed, according to The New York Times.
“My throat was burning and, from the noise, I thought it was a helicopter at first,” he said.
“Then we turned ’round and saw a light, it was the burning aircraft,” he said, adding that there had been a “mushroom of smoke.”
#BREAKING: Reported scene of Ukranian cargo plane crash in Kavala, Greece. Reports that the Antonov An-12BK lost an engine before crashing.
Unclear how many people were on-board and if the plane was carrying equipment.
— Moshe Schwartz (@YWNReporter) July 16, 2022
The BBC said that due to concerns about toxic substances, drones were used to survey the site of the crash.
Greek officials warned residents to stay indoors and keep their windows and doors shut.
A fire brigade official said first responders “felt their lips burning” and said that white dust was floating around the wreckage, Reuters reported.
Local official Philippos Anastasiades said that the substance was found not to be toxic.
However, ABC noted that not all of the ordinance had been examined as of Sunday.
Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said all eight crew members aboard were killed.
“These were illuminating mortar mines and training (mines). … This flight had all necessary permissions in accordance with international regulations,” Stefanovic said.
Shortly before the crash, the pilot had alerted ground crews that there was an engine problem, according to NPR.
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