Local residents report seeing a fireball and hearing explosions for two hours after the crash that kills all eight crew members on board, say officials.
A cargo plane carrying hazardous material has crashed in northeastern Greece, sending acrid fumes into the air, local officials said.
The plane, operated by a Ukraine-based company, went down late on Saturday in Paleochori village near the Greek city of Kavala.
All eight crew members of the plane died in the accident, Serbia’s defence minister said on Sunday.
The Antonov An-12 was carrying around 11 tonnes of weapons as well as mines to Bangladesh when it crashed on Saturday night, Nebojsa Stefanovic said.
Video footage from a local channel showed signs of impact on a field and the aircraft in pieces scattered in a large area.
Local residents reported seeing a fireball and hearing explosions for two hours after the crash.
According to state-run TV, the army, explosives experts and Greek Atomic Energy Commission staff would approach the area after it is deemed safe as fears of the toxicity of the unknown cargo forced them to stay away.
Fire brigade official Marios Apostolidis told reporters, “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.”
When the area is deemed secure, the search teams are going to operate, he added.
As a strong smell emanated from the crash site, a coordinating committee made up of municipal, police and fire service officials asked inhabitants of the adjoining areas to take precautions. They were asked to keep their windows shut all night and advised not to leave their homes and to wear masks.
Two firefighters were taken to the hospital early on Sunday with breathing issues because of the toxic fumes.
A local man, Giorgos Archontopoulos, told state broadcaster ERT television he felt something was wrong as soon as he heard noise from the aircraft.
“At 22:45 [19:45 GMT], I was surprised by the sound of the engine of the aircraft,” he said. “I went outside and saw the engine on fire.”
Local officials said seven fire engines had been deployed to the crash site but that they could not approach because of the continuing explosions.