Greek cleanup of Ukraine munitions plane crash to take weeks

(Photo: AFP)

ATHENS — The safety sweep of a Greek field where a Ukrainian plane carrying munitions crashed over the weekend, raising fears of contamination, is set to take weeks, the local mayor said Tuesday.اضافة اعلان

“The first estimate is that (the operation) will take at least a month,” Filippos Anastassiadis, mayor of Pangaio municipality, told state TV ERT.

The Antonov An-12 came down near the northern Greek city of Kavala late Saturday evening killing all eight crew onboard. It was transporting 11.5 tonnes of Serbian-made mortars to Bangladesh, which was the buyer.

The authorities initially warned residents to stay indoors with their windows shut. Local people reported respiratory difficulties.

Explosives disposal experts were working for a third day on Tuesday to clear ordnance so the site could be decontaminated and made accessible.

The authorities have forbidden residents from entering surrounding fields until the wreckage and any unexploded munitions have been removed.

Another municipal official, Makis Papathanassiou, on Tuesday told ERT an area of 100 hectares had been cordoned off and was under police guard.

The plane was operated by the Ukrainian cargo carrier Meridian. The foreign ministry in Kyiv said the dead were Ukrainian citizens.

Greece on Monday formally complained to Belgrade and Kyiv, saying it had not received prior warning about the cargo.

There was also confusion initially over the plane’s destination.

It took off from the Serbian city of Nis on Saturday and had been due to make a stopover in Amman, Jordan.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said all procedures had been respected “to the letter”.

Videos on social media showed the plane engulfed by a giant fireball as it hit the ground.

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