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Ukrainian cargo plane crashes in Greece

A Ukrainian cargo plane carrying munitions from Serbia to Bangladesh has crashed near the city of Kavala in northern Greece.

Reports say the incident occurred on Saturday with residents of the city warned to avoid the area, and to keep windows and doors shut. 

ABC reports that drone images from the scene show debris from the Antonov An-12 aircraft strewn across fields.

Greek authorities say there were eight crew members on board, and a Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed that they were all Ukrainian citizens.

The pilot managed to alert Greek authorities about a problem in one of the plane’s engines, and he was given the choice of landing at either the Thessaloniki or Kavala airports.

He opted for Kavala, which was closer, but the plane crashed about 40 kilometres west of the airport.

Locals reported seeing a fireball and a plume of smoke.

Authorities have not been able to confirm how many people were on the plane.

Serbia’s defence minister said the plane was carrying 11.5 tonnes of products made by its defence industry, including illuminating mortar shells and training shells, purchased by Bangladesh.

According to a Greek fire brigade official, firefighters responding to the scene “felt their lips burning” and white dust was floating in the air.

The area where the plane crashed was cordoned off, and residents of two nearby villages have been advised to keep windows and doors shut, and to avoid the area of the incident.

A senior source at Jordan’s civil aviation regulatory commission denied initial reports that the plane was headed to Jordan, and that the flight itinerary only included a stopover to refuel.

An ABC report says the plane’s cargo itself was owned by Serbian company Valir, which is registered to perform foreign trade activities of arms and military equipment.

Writing by Tony Okerafor