The aircraft was travelling from Serbia to Bangladesh when it went down near the city of Kavala late on Saturday night, Serbian authorities confirmed today (17 July).
Locals witnessed a fireball light up the sky and explosions could be heard for two hours following the crash, Sky News has reported.
The Antonov An-12 cargo plane had weapons including landmines onboard and took off from Nis in Serbia on Saturday (16 July), destined for Amman in Jordan.
It crashed at around 11pm local time, not long after the pilot told air traffic controllers there was an engine problem and he’d have to make an emergency landing.
The pilot, who was flying a Soviet-era plan, was directed to Kavala International Airport, which was near the crash site, but didn’t make it.
All eight people onboard the flight sadly died and drone footage revealed that only small fragments remain of the plane. The aircraft crashed in fields situated between two Greek villages and remained on fire until Sunday morning.
Firefighters on the scene were unable to get too close to the crash site because of smoke alongside a smell that was feared to be toxic.
Local villagers were advised to wear masks, not leave their homes and keep their windows shut all night.
Speaking just over an hour after the crash, Filippos Anastassiadis, mayor of the municipality of Paggaio, told the Associated Press: “We were hearing explosions until a few minutes ago. I am about 300 metres from the site of the crash.”
Explosive experts are preparing to search the crash site and work out exactly what sort of cargo the plane was carrying, while drones continued to survey the scene on Sunday morning.
Lieutenant General Marios Apostolidis, of the Northern Greece Fire Brigade, told reporters at the scene: “The [air] measurements at the moment have not shown anything but nonetheless instability in the field was observed
“In other words, intense smoke and heat, as well as a white substance that we do not recognise, so a special armed forces team has to inform us what it is and whether we can enter the field.”
The plane was being operated by Ukrainian cargo airline Meridian, however, the aircraft has not yet been connected to the war in Ukraine.